Cam Newton finally has broken his silence on his release from the New England Patriots.
The veteran quarterback was cut by the Patriots last week, making way for rookie signal-caller Mac Jones to become the starter.
Newton sat down for a conversation with his father, Cecil, in an interview that was posted Friday on YouTube.
Here are some thoughts and takeaways.
Newton’s thoughts on getting released were surprisingly nuanced
You could forgive Newton if he was mad at the world and just ripped the Patriots for cutting him. However, his take on getting released was actually pretty real.
“When it happened, we went through the meeting, Matt Patricia was there, Bill (Belichick) was there. We greeted each other, and we just started talking. At that time, they told me that they were going to give the reins to Mac, and I was like, ‘OK, cool.’ And it didn’t dawn on me. I was like, ‘Y’all releasing me?’ I was confused, because Bill was — we all were shocked. It was uncomfortable for everybody.”
That came after Newton admitted the decision to release him “absolutely” caught him by surprise.
The decision shocked a lot of people, but Newton was thoughtful about it. He was honest that he probably would have been cut even if the five-day absence mishap didn’t happen, while also acknowledging it probably made it easier for the Patriots to cut him after that. That’s about as bang-on of an assessment as you can get without a direct admission from the Patriots about what happened.
Overall, there likely were myriad factors that likely went into the decision. That Newton didn’t chalk it up to one thing was an impressive display of level-headedness.
He outed himself as not knowing COVID-19 protocols
Look, if the Patriots really didn’t know that Newton was going to have to do a lengthy re-entry protocol after flying back into Boston, then they also are complicit in this. However, it is Newton’s responsibility as an unvaccinated player to know for darn sure what he is and is not allowed to do.
Should the Patriots have been more informed? Sure. But while it is Newton’s right to determine if he should or should not be vaccinated, he also must know that unvaccinated players play by totally different rules in the NFL this season. That he didn’t know his reentry process was going to be long is as much on him as it is the team, if not more.
So, for him to say he was “bamboozled” when he learned of the reentry process is more a reflection of him than anyone else. You have to appreciate the candor, but whether he wants to admit it or not, he showed scant regard for the protocols by not knowing absolutely everything he needed to know before flying to Atlanta.
He made it harder for himself to get a backup job
Newton probably isn’t entirely wrong about the fact that his “aura” can be a distraction as a backup quarterback. Point-blank admitting that was shocking on his part, though, if for no other reason than him making it a lot harder to secure a backup job now.
If Newton is out here saying that he will be a distraction, even if he isn’t trying to be, what team is going to want to bring him in? It would be one thing if he were a better player at this stage of his career, but no team is going to want to take a flier on a reclamation project that inherently will be a distraction.
The best plan for him always seemed to be trying to latch on to a team that loses its starter to an injury early in the season. Newton with this interview basically pigeonholed himself into that being his only option.
He does ultimately believe in Mac Jones
It is good to see that Newton made sure to point out that Jones is ready for the NFL.
When the Patriots drafted Jones, Newton had expressed understanding about the move. Throughout training camp, Newton was complimentary of Jones. Those takes didn’t seem to change in Friday’s interview.
Say what you want about Newton, a man who is unapologetically himself, but for better or for worse, you cannot argue that he says what is on his mind. He showed through his comments Friday that this whole time he was being genuine.
Someone other than his dad should have handled the interview
Cam Newton is his own man, and it’s not like this was a network-organized interview. But his dad really, really detracted from the overall conversation.
Cecil launched into soliloquys nobody asked for about why he’s not vaccinated. He pulled out one strawman argument after another, and clearly was trying to goad Cam into certain answers. Too often, he tried to make an interview about Cam more about himself, and his periodic non-sequiturs ultimately detracted from many of the insightful things Cam had to say.
It’s understandable that a father wants to defend his son, and it’s worth pointing out the obvious that neither Cecil nor Cam probably care about how people are viewing the interview. The interview was designed to let Cam tell his side of the story, but far too often it dovetailed into Cecil’s stances on epidemiology and punditry, to the point he was railroading the entire thing.
That’s not to say a journalist needed to handle this. But if even 1 percent of this interview was Cam trying to make himself marketable to other teams to keep his NFL career alive, he should’ve had the conversation with a Jay Glazer or Michael Strahan type.
That said, Cecil was right to compare last year’s Patriots to a beat up, old Honda Civic. So hats off to him for that one.
Newton might not be bitter, but he is wrong about ‘not getting beat’ by Mac Jones
Among the most head-scratching parts of the interview was Newton saying that Jones didn’t beat him.
Um, yes he did.
Newton can disagree about how things all went down, but that was the only stage of the interview that reeked of sour grapes. Bill Belichick has made it his brand to say the Patriots always will do what is best for the team, and it seems clear that Jones is the best option for the Patriots right now.
The reality is that the Patriots offense is better suited for Jones’ skill set. Between that and the Patriots exhausting a first-round pick on Jones, the cards were stacked against Newton from the get-go — even if Belichick kept reiterating that it was Newton’s job to lose.
If Jones seriously was not ready to be a starting NFL quarterback, the Patriots would not be playing him. It is that simple. The fact that they are playing him is an indication the Newton did, in fact, lose the starting job.
Ultimately, time will tell if the Patriots made the right decision. But to say he didn’t get beat by Jones is flat wrong.