By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
One thing we learned over the past few days is that many football fans still hate (fear?) the Patriots and Bill Belichick. And that if they remain in the Super Bowl conversation in the post-Tom Brady era, and especially if they win it after taking a late-offseason flyer on Cam Newton, the hate will only intensify.
Winning a championship with a natural successor that you incubated and nurtured for a year-plus is a sensible plan, but a boring one. Winning with a former MVP that you unearthed from the scraps in the middle of the summer? Well now Belichick is ready to give everyone outside of New England the ol' double-bird.
Belichick will have at least a little something to prove in the 2020 season, as will Brady. The Patriots head coach needs to win a Super Bowl with another quarterback in order to silence the Brady truthers. At least get there. He just presented himself with perhaps the best possible opportunity to do that in 2020 - and to do what he often does as a coach: make the rest of the NFL look really, really bad.
You may wonder why it would be a bigger eff you to the league to win a Super Bowl with Newton, rather than Jarrett Stidham, or even Brian Hoyer. That's because Belichick's no dummy. He knows his chances of even making a real playoff run with Hoyer are minimal. And that even if Stidham were "ready", he's no 2001 Brady. If they win, it's not that likely Stidham would be the reason.
Belichick's best chance to win comes with Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP who, while injured and on the decline in recent years, is highly motivated and one of the NFL's most dynamic quarterbacks when healthy.
And oh my sweet lord, would everyone else be so mad. I'm gonna get my quarterback in late June, pay him in meatballs, shine him up real nice and stick him straight up your candy asses, all the way to a Lombardi. Mike and Tony, especially, would be PISSED.
Belichick and the Pats have always been dismissed as "lucky," but the truth is they create their own breaks. People ignore the times they were unlucky. But from Scott Norwood to John Kasay to Pete Carroll to Kyle Shanahan to Jared Goff and Sean McVay, Belichick's Patriots have been the living embodiment of a famous quote from the Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca: "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."
With Newton in the fold, the opportunity is really there now for the coming season. And it's hard to doubt that Belichick and the Patriots will continue to be the best-prepared team in the NFL. So can Newton rewrite his own narrative? Can he supplant that unfortunate image of himself darting away from a loose football late in a Super Bowl that he was losing? He just landed in the best possible spot to find the answer to that question.
To be fair to 31 other teams, many of them didn't need Newton. Belichick wouldn't really be giving a hard double-middle finger to, say, the Chiefs or Packers or Seahawks. Maybe just the kind where you crank the bird up and out of your hand.
For teams like the Ravens, Texans, Steelers, Titans, Colts ... hey buddy I got somethin' for ya.
But for sure the Panthers, other QB-uncertain teams like the Chargers and Broncos, the AFC East?
Double freedom rockets. D-X crotch chops.
Bah gawd King that's Cam Newton's music!
I'm nothing if not a diplomat. So it's only fair to acknowledge that, welp, no other team in the NFL wanted Newton that badly. The Patriots were reportedly the only team to even make him an offer. He's not even guaranteed the starting job yet. Newton has a lot to learn and most certainly needs to prove that he is over his shoulder & foot injuries.
But if he does? Holy bleep. Social media zombies would need a diaper change. Belichick truthers would have to scramble for their next conspiracy theory. Some other team would have no choice but to pay Newton $38 million a year.
As for Brady, he's got a double-bird of his own loaded and ready to fire. As long as he stays healthy he's probably going to have his best season since 2017. He's probably going to prove to the world that he doesn't need Belichick, either.
It's why Brady vs. Belichick remains the NFL's most fascinating storyline entering the 2020 season. And if either of them win the Super Bowl, it would be the ultimate middle finger to everyone that's tried to tear them down for the past two decades.
And if Belichick's the one to do it, with a QB he just picked up the other night, it would be most obscene. Obscenely satisfying.
Sports Hub Sidelines Podcast
Ty Anderson and I talked at length about the Patriots' Cam Newton signing, the potential risks and rewards, and our thoughts on Newton's career to this point on the latest Sports Hub Sidelines podcast. That, among other topics. Have a listen below.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].