This is from Odell Beckham Jr's YouTube channel, "The Bigger Picture." It's a conversation between OBJ, Cam Newton and Todd Gurley, more or less moderated by Victor Cruz. Not everyone has an hour to spend, but if you get the time, I recommend listening to as much as you can, as the four of them have a lot of perspective on a wide range of topics, not the least of which are how they'll address Black Lives Matter once the country starts getting distracted by football, OBJ's admitted mental health issues and how they were exacerbated by being in a losing culture in New York and a several others. It's really insightful, with the kind of candor that comes out of a conversation more than an formal interview.
I've cued the video up to the 33:31 mark, when Newton is asked by Cruz for his thoughts on being left hanging by the Panthers and then the rest of the league. And how he came to New England. It is by far the most he's opened up about what the year has been like for him.
Newton: I had to count the days, how long I was unemployed. It was 86 nights. Eighty-six nights. That’s just like three months.
Cruz: Almost 90 days.
Newton: You see what I’m saying? And I’m going through it, and I’m like, OK. Early on, people are going and getting signed, and I’m looking at ’em and going, you can’t say I’m old, because people older than me are getting signed.
Cruz: Especially at your position.
Newton: Hello! Then I’m like, you can’t say it’s about injury, because people who are more injured than me are getting signed. So I’m like, "OK, cool. Where we at?" Then you can’t say the talent. So I’m like, "Hold on." OK, I’ll be the first person to tell you, these last two years, I haven’t been putting the best film on tape. That’s just honest. But then I’m like OK, there’s other people that’s been putting shitty film out there that’s getting picked up. And I’m like, whoa.
Cruz: Not just getting picked up. Getting the starting job.
Newton: Like I’m feeling disrespected. Because every team at one point had to say, "OK, fellas, Cam Newton. What do we think? Uhhhh ... pass." You feel me? And that’s the disrespect that I feel. I feel vindicated to some degree, but I’m searching for — I’m aiming at, I’m going at necks all year. Because at one point I'm like, at one point I did feel - and I still do feel - a part of me is left because I gave an organization everything. What I gave, I don't think other people were willing to give. And there were times I KNEW I wasn't supposed to be playing. But, off of the mere fact of [his teammates], I'm like "I can't give up on them." ... We play the ultimate team sport, offensive football. ... We need a collective group of 11 guys doing one thing, not one guy trying to do 11 things.
I got a call, and my agent hit me. I was working out. He said, "Hey Cam, we got an interest from a team." I'm like, "OK. Cool. Who?" He was like, "New England!" I'm like, "How is me and Belichick gonna mesh?" Because it's the perception. ...
OBJ: But I think the perception with Belichick is not like that. ... For me watching you, and to feel that vindication and to be going to Belichick, there is no "How is going to work?" from me. All he wants to do is put you in a place to succeed. And I'm happy to see that.
Newton: OK, we have to talk about the elephant in the room. And it’s like, you know who you’re coming after [ie Brady]? And I’m like yeah, great. What he was, what he is, is great. Needs no ... even talking about it. But one thing about it, though. [Laughs] Coach McDaniels, you’re able to call some stuff that you ain’t never been able to call now. You’re getting a dog. And you’re getting one of these ticked off dogs, too. And I’m looking at the schedule like, "Who we play? THAT team passed on me. OK. THAT team passed on me. They could’ve came and got me. They hollered at me."
Annnddd ... scene.
I love everything about this. From the frank discussion to the cigar to the long, slow sip of Cabernet before Newton spoke.
Lord help the rest of the NFL. The more I hear from this guy, the more he reveals to the world where he is at mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, the more convinced I am that Belichick could not have handled this better. For how many years have we been asking ourselves the question of how you replace the irreplaceable man? You can go through the draft and hope you hit on just the right guy with the right toughness, makeup and skillset to take on the challenge. And I hope with my entire being that Jarrett Stidham will be that guy in time.
But can you have a better candidate to take on that challenge than a guy who was at the top of the mountain just five years ago, sat at home unemployed while older, less healthy, less talented quarterbacks with shittier film got starting jobs? A guy who sacrificed his health for the sake of his teammates, only to be cast aside by his franchise - via text, no less - like he was one of DiCaprio's girlfriends who'd just turned 23? A guy who is a self-described ticked off dog. A dog who is already turning the 2020 schedule into his own "Kill Bill"-like list of scores he needs to settle.
And as much of anything, I appreciate Beckham being someone who recognizes Belichick is not the least bit interested in concerning himself with stylish press conference outfits or post-touchdown gestures or any of that superfluous nonsense everyone mistakenly think he's obsessed with. All he cares about is winning. Which means putting in the time, working, studying, correcting mistakes, being accountable and putting the team first. And letting a hungry, very ticked off dog off the leash to get his revenge on the teams that left him hanging. It's all been set up so perfectly, it's not hard to imagine Belichick left Newton to fume all through the Spring and most of June just to get him industrial-strength ticked off. If so, it seems to be working perfectly.
And if you're wondering, the track record of former MVP quarterbacks being released while they've still got some good football left in them would seem to indicate history is on our side.