There’s not many in the NFL that are more familiar with quarterback Cam Newton than ex-Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera.
Rivera watched Newton ascend from a No. 1 overall pick to a league MVP, working with the signal-caller from 2011 to 2019 before being fired by the franchise midway through the season. And now, Rivera, the current coach of the Washington Redskins, has expressed his confidence that Newton will make the most of his next opportunity, which reportedly will come in New England.
“He’s headed in the right direction,” Rivera told the McNeil & Parkins Show on 670 The Score. “I mean, he’s probably about as healthy as it gets from what I’ve seen on video. I think he’s ready to bust out. I really do. I would never bet against the young man, that’s for sure.”
The Patriots reportedly signed Newton to a one-year “incentive-laden” deal Sunday night. While the official terms have not been released, Newton posted a video saying goodbye to Carolina and hello to New England on Monday. Newton reportedly only had one other team interested in him.
While that motivation previously has been noted by others, perhaps it’s part of the reason Rivera is advising those not to overlook the 2015 MVP entering the 2020 season.
“Don’t bet against him,” Rivera said. “I really wouldn’t. First of all, you got to know who he is and understand what all he’s gone through. He’s a guy that’s always tried to do things, I think, because he’s felt the pressure. He felt the pressure of being the No. 1 overall pick. He felt the pressure of having won the Heisman Trophy and being the No. 1 overall pick. He felt the pressure of being a Black quarterback, with all the stuff that’s been heaped on him.
“He’s really had to find his way through it, and he’s done a great job with it.”