By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
Thursday was Cam Newton’s final mid-week press conference of the 2020 season. It was also possibly his last as a member of the Patriots.
While the on-field product hasn’t been what anybody was hoping for (and Newton would be the first one to tell you as much), speaking with the 31-year-old each week has been special. He’s been honest, open, and accountable since Day 1.
With it being the end of the season, as well as the final day of the calendar year, Newton’s final presser took on a retrospective tone. The Patriots’ quarterback reflected on his roller coaster 2020, discussing it’s many challenges – some of which he dealt with publicly and others that were more personal.
In the interest of capturing the full essence of what Newton was saying, instead of trying to editorialize bits and pieces of what he said, here’s the larger general quotes that stood out.
When asked if he felt like he was given the best opportunity to succeed with the Patriots:
Yeah, without a doubt, and all of that is contingent upon me. I’ve had a great relationship with Jedd [Fisch] when he was here. Great relationship with Josh [McDaniels]. Great relationship with Mr. Kraft. Great relationship with Dolla Dolla Bill. Just this whole coaching staff. You know, so, my only regret was I wish I had more time to dissect what I was actually getting in to. I’ve been in this league long enough to kind of always downplay, like, ‘Man, we don’t need preseason. We don’t need OTAs. We don’t need; we’re ready to go.’ Yeah, maybe if I was still in the system I came from. But learning this system, yeah, you just need more time, you need more real reps to kind of go through because there’s only but so much you can kind of make up. You could put the eyelashes on. You could do your eyebrows. You could put your lipstick on. The mascara. And the lip liner. But sooner or later, it’s going to rain. And the real true you will show. And unfortunately it showed – not necessarily in ways that I wanted to. But it was just hesitation. But now, as I get comfortable, it’s nobody to necessarily pick at. Or to say ‘You know man, I wish Josh’ ‘Man, I wish they would have.’ No, that’s not me. I have children. I know one day we’re going to have a conversation, and I’m going to say; as a grown man, you just accept all responsibilities and you hope who really knows this game just know that they can dissect it for what it’s worth. But for me, I still can be better. I still can be more consistent. Some of the throws that I’ve had, I wish I would have had back. But yet nobody cares about the circumstances, nobody cares about the waves or the tide that’s in the water. They just care about you just reeling that ship on in, and I didn’t do that consistently enough.
On what he learned about himself in 2020, and why the toughest challenge was one nobody on the outside saw:
I’m a mentally tough, S.O.B., bruh. And everything that you just said really wasn’t really the main one that I’m just like, you know — which ones did you say? You said the injuries, that was tough to kind of get over. The late free agency. Yup. That was tough. COVID, you mentioned. And even the success, those are all ones that you kind of look back and kind of, ‘Yeah, it could have been better.’ The one for me is my kids. It’s my children. It’s like any father, any mother who’s on this call right now to go without talking to your kids or your family. That was — that’s everything, you know what I’m saying? Because like, I’ll put it like this: And I’m being honest, right? I had two birthdays that I didn’t see. My son Chosen’s birthday was on Christmas Eve. I didn’t get to see it with him. My son Cashmere’s birthday was on September 30, and I didn’t get to see that too. Cashmere just turned 1, so that was kind of a big deal for him. Chosen just turned 5. So — and even more or less, not seeing my kids’ first steps. Like, all of those things, being unemployed for 86 nights, yeah that’s tough. Having injuries, yeah that’s tough. Going through this season and you can kind of assume what a juggernaut media market that Boston is or Foxboro, New England, whatever you want to call, is. The slander that comes with living up to the TB12 expectations. Yeah, all of that is tough. You hear it. None of it is even a close second to not being able to see your children. Just that. You miss your kids’ first steps. You’re not there during Christmas. You’re not there on birthdays. And then on top of that, you’re sucking? Ah, man. And coming from a person that’s already emotional? And I don’t even want to talk to people on a regular day let alone when everything is going good. But I’ve learned that through it all, you only got your faith in god, your faith in yourself. And that’s pretty much it. I’ve really relied on understanding of trying to find something to build off of. It didn’t matter if it was a, ‘Well, it was an incomplete.’ And you may think of it as — I don’t care what you think of it — for me, I’m being optimistic through it all and I’ve learned to be optimistic especially through these trials and tribulations because at times during this year, it was like, ‘God. What is it? What are you doing? What are you trying to tell me? Like, what am I not doing?’ And yeah, having to wake up at certain amount of times and leaving the facilities at certain amount of times and still not having the success that you want to have, it teaches you resiliency. It teaches you patience. It teaches you to have faith and understanding that, listen, sooner or later, you’re going to get a break. I’m not looking for no handouts. It’s just more or less for me to just say, ‘Bruh, damn. Finally.’ Right? And 2020, man I’m about to sign, seal. I’m about to tie this year up, put a big knot on it. I can buy every single lock, key and throw away all of them. I don’t want to see no part of 2020, but it made me a better person. That, I do believe. And that’s something, being a part of this franchise is something that you just don’t wash away that stench, that aura of being a Patriot. It’s something that’s in you. Being around arguably the greatest coach of all time and looking at him from afar, because I obviously, my living method may not be as his living methods. He wears jeans and a bubble coat or Patriots gear every single day. And meanwhile I’m Polo down, Moncler down, you know what I’m saying? Meshika hat, shades. That’s just my steez. I’m like, this cold, I ain’t ever been able to wear this jacket. Boom. Wearing it. And it still teaches you different methods of being producing and having production in this league. And I’ll never forget that.
How challenging it was to have social interactions limited and not get to know people face-to-face in New England
Like I’ve mentioned in weeks past, I’m a sociology major. So let’s cut that — the root word of sociology is being social. But at the same time I’m the biggest social, most introverted person you’ve ever met. Like a lot of people may look at me and be like ‘oh my God, I bet he has a great time out.’ You will never see me out. I just enjoy shows and really great documentaries. Smoking a cigar with some vino. Now, you guys would have never known that until — but that’s something that just probably happens face-to-face. So yeah, just having a better understanding, and even really, I think what it is about learning other people, there’s only but so much you can learn off of a FaceTime call. Off a Zoom call. What I’ve learned in my history of learning is, the more senses that you use to try to learn about something, the better off it’s going to stick to your membrane. Obviously we’re only using our sense of hearing and seeing, but obviously if we could touch each other, if we could smell each other, if we could hear each other, and other senses that we do have that you can kind of have face to face rather than on the Zoom calls. I don’t know how tall you guys are. I don’t know if you guys got swag or not. Maybe one of your guys are as swaggy as me. I would never know. That may have been a connection. That may have been a challenge. When I seen Coach Dolla Bill in L.A., my dawg came with a whole Hawaiian shirt tucked in with the cargo shorts, with the thong flip flops, man! I wouldn’t have known he was that swaggy. I took it as a challenge so next week I had to get swaggier.
What playing for the Patriots and New England taught him about the game of football, and himself as a playr
Yes. Yes. Yes, I do. And it’s not to say that being in coach’s Ron Rivera system, or Coach [Mike] Shula’s, [Rob] Chudzinski, who else? Wherever I’ve been or whoever coached me, it was just asked for the quarterback position to do other things. And like I said, this is a system that wasn’t just a system. It was 20 years, you know, back when Bill Parcells was here. Back when, you know, different coaches – and I look at the whole lineage and almanac of coaches because they’re hung up as you walk into the building. I didn’t know, you know, Pete Carroll was here. I didn’t know, you know, multiple coaches was here that coached and may not have been when Coach Bill was here. But at the same time, you know what it is. So to answer your question, it wasn’t – to be asked to do as much as I was asked to do was never placed on my shoulders ever as much as it was this year. And I appreciate it. It made me a more cerebral football player, so to speak. And I’m going home, you know, telling my dad like ‘man Pop man it was over double Tom. And, you know, I had to slide to protection, but when the safety rolled down late, I had to move it back to fifty six and I had to lock fifty six. I just forgot to lock the receiver. He ran outside and just I hit, decided just, and boom.’ You know, to kind of talk it out like that, I couldn’t say that Week 4, and I’m still like looking at Josh like ‘Josh [McDaniels], we’ve got to meet. Jedd [Fisch], we got to meet. We got to talk it out.’ You know, I don’t want to be the dummy to ask the question in front of everybody, but I just – we all learn differently. And, yeah, it took 20 plus years to come up with it. And they have their own reason and because of it. And also for them to try to incorporate some of the things that I’m comfortable with was another wrench in the toolbox too. So, through it all I ain’t gonna complain. I won’t complain, I’m just going to make the most of this whole opportunity, I’m going to have fun – been having fun – and just love on the guys, you know, while I can. And man, I just appreciate it. I appreciate – I can definitely knock this off my bucket list to a degree, man. But at the same time I’m yearning for more, you know? Any competitor – I think, you know, Bill said, ‘any competitor who is a competitor will show up on Sunday,’ and that’s what I expect to do. But yet, through it all, you know, this year has taught me so much about myself. It was almost like, you know, going up under the hood for me. Working on my attitude, working on my patience, working on my faith, working on, you know, the resilient side of you, you know, what are you going to do when things aren’t, you know, so good? When are we going to tackle your family, tackle your health, tackle your success? Can you still do it? Can you throw? Can you run? Right? And how are you going to respond to it? So through it all, man, it’s always a challenge. I’m always a person that’s trying to get better and I will continually have that same mentality.
As for his potential future in New England, those questions were one of the few times this year Newton tiptoed in his answers. “I’m not trying to foreshadow nothing at this particular point in time,” he said on Thursday. “I have work here that’s still not finished and even though we’re not getting what we want, we still can end this season the right way and that’s with a win.”
However, he did leave some breadcrumbs hinting that he may not believe he’ll be back in Foxborough next season. Towards the end of the session, he mentioned that there are “guys in this locker room that I plan on still having connections with.” He also made a point of explaining the context after signing off with “see you all next year” by saying “well that will be tomorrow. That’s what I mean,” before closing with “But we’re making this [expletive] too, too sad…Happy New Year!”
The overall nostalgic tone of his 25-minute press availability made it seem like Cam believes this is it for him with the Patriots. If that’s the case, he certainly will leave on a kind of high note, albeit not on the field as he and fans would have hoped.
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Alex Barth is a writer and 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. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com