In about a month, the New England Patriots will take the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium for training camp. It’s been well documented that Cam Newton has re-signed with the Patriots, but will this work to the Patriots’ advantage? We’re in uncharted territory here to some degree. There are reasons to suspect that it won’t, and I believe the reasons for this lie directly on the shoulders of Newton.
Cam Newton knows he has to overcome his problems, whether he believes he has them or not. A lot of fans want to see him fail at his dream of becoming a superstar again. He has to know this. Newton has faced people not believing in him for a long time, but I think he has given them every reason to. I’ve always felt he has always wanted to be “The Man”, and he thought he had that in Carolina. However, the Panthers rocked him by letting him become an unrestricted free agent.
Now, there remains plenty of quarterback uncertainty. Coach Belichick has a first-round pick on the roster in Mac Jones. Last season, Cam Newton threw for 2657 yards and had a 65% completion rate in 15 games. He had 8 touchdowns but had 10 interceptions last season. Is that enough to want Newton to be the starter this year? I don’t know. Let’s start with Newton’s past and move forward before we make our own decision about him being the starter.
His Problems at University of Florida
Cam Newton committed to the University of Florida in early 2007. He quickly beat out John Brantley for the backup position. Due to a blowout in the first game of his freshmen year, he was able to play in that game. However, he hurt his ankle whilst playing. It was decided that Newton should take a medical redshirt for the remainder of the season.
On November 21, 2007, Cam Newton was arrested on felony charges of burglary, larceny, and obstruction of justice after purchasing stolen property. When the stolen property was found in his possession, he was suspended from the football team. Quickly, in December of 2007, he decided to withdraw from the University of Florida.
In 2010, it was reported by ESPN that “Cam Newton was facing possible expulsion from the University of Florida for academic cheating when he transferred to junior college in the spring of 2008.”
I thought he was extremely talented, but he was definitely immature and impulsive. Obviously, Coach Urban Meyer saw the talent, but not the coming issues with him.
Did He Have Issues at Blinn College?
Newton threw for 2,833 yards with 22 touchdowns and ran for 655 yards at Blinn College and yet was not named first or even second-team All-American. He also won a National JUCO Championship. In three semesters at Blinn, he received his associate’s degree and transferred to Auburn University.
I believed that maybe Blinn College changed Newton and made him grow up until ESPN hit the air. ESPN.com reported at the time: “last week…a man claiming to represent Cam Newton during the quarterback’s recruitment out of Blinn College last year allegedly sought payments in the range of $200,000 to secure Newton’s signature on a national letter of intent.” Seems like whoever was advising Newton had convinced him to go for the money.
His Problems at Auburn University
Cam Newton was finally back at a Division I school, but could he keep on the straight and narrow? ESPN stated, “Newton led the Tigers to their first national title since 1957 in his lone season at the Southeastern Conference school.” However, he was ruled ineligible for one day then reinstated after the NCAA determined Newton had no knowledge of his father breaking rules. Cam Newton ended up playing in and winning the National Championship and the Heisman Trophy.
Bleacher Report stated in 2010, “So by the official definition of the rule and the facts that we know about the case, Cam Newton has broken the rules and was ineligible to play in the SEC Championship game against the University of South Carolina, and remains ineligible to play in the BCS Championship Game.” By this statement, Newton wouldn’t have had the chance to redeem himself. What would have happened then? Would he have been out of chances?
Did He Overcome His Problems with the Carolina Panthers?
Being picked overall number one in the NFL Draft in 2011 was a massive accomplishment for Cam Newton. By 2015, he had even led Carolina to a Super Bowl final. He wasn’t the only reason Carolina lost to the Denver Broncos by a score of 24-10 that day, and I was ready to say he had finally grown up and became a leader to his team by getting them to the Super Bowl. Then an NFL.com article said that “They’ll (fans) point to all the celebratory antics that became his trademarks — the dabbing, the dancing, the fake jump shots after touchdowns — and use them as proof of what they see as a superficial nature.” Was Newton’s leadership position a facade to cover a deeper immaturity?
In 2017, an NFL.com article stated, “Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton apologized Thursday for using words that were “extremely degrading and disrespectful to women” when he responded to a question asked Wednesday by Jourdan Rodrigue, a reporter for The Charlotte Observer, that ‘it’s funny to hear a female talk about routes.'”
Newton missed all but two games in 2019 due to a Lisfranc injury in his left foot. He had surgery on it in December. It was easy to see that maybe his chances were over in Charlotte. Maybe they should be for the entire league.
Will He Have Issues In New England?
Cam Newton, luckily for him, got picked up by the New England Patriots after Tom Brady went to Tampa Bay. He was named the starter for Coach Bill Belichick about two weeks before the first game. I have to say I was surprised. Cam Newton doesn’t appear to be his “type” of quarterback, or was it Brady that was not his “type” of quarterback? Players have always enjoyed never knowing what Newton would do next, from his touchdown antics to his after-game dress.
However, I’m not sure that Coach Belichick will enjoy it. He seems to enjoy ‘quiet, come to work and not act flashy’ players. Can Newton be that? I don’t think so. In the blue-collar and ‘work hard’ town of Boston, I can’t see him fitting in. Yes, Tom Brady became a model, but he wasn’t afraid to do the dirty work of throwing blocks when needed. Bostonians fell in love with that. For this risk to work for the Patriots, Cam Newton has to become something he’s never been: a model player. No issues. No problems. Just quietly going about his work.
If he can’t make it in New England, then I don’t see another team taking a chance on him as a starter again. He may be able to stay on a few years as a backup, but can his ego handle that? My bet is on him not doing well in New England, or staying in the league past this year. Who knows? He may just prove me wrong. However, I think we will see that Mac Jones is exactly what New England wants and needs.