Two days ago, Cam Newton promised us he'd have a lot to say. It turned out to be 43 minutes worth of lot to say. To his dad. At the 50 yard line of a high school football stadium. All delivered with the calm, frank, upbeat demeanor and fashion-forward sartorial splendor that has made him an icon going all the way back to Auburn.
There are a couple of U-Hauls to unpack here. But just to pull some of the major bullet points:
--Newton says he had no idea he was being released. He describes a scene where he was told Belichick wanted to see him and found his coach in an office with Matt Patricia and was told Mac Jones would be the starting QB. "They told me they were going to give the reins to Mac," he says. "And I was like, 'Ok, cool.' ... I mean, we were all shocked. It was all uncomfortable for everybody."
--But that it took him a minute to process that he would be the only one of them making the roster:
--Newton's dad Cecil asks him, "How is it that you take first team reps in practice, and in the final preseason game ... How did we get to the day 1 starter to sitting where we’re sitting?" Cam's response: "I don't know."
--He says he doesn't think that he was necessarily outplayed by Jones, just that Jones got more opportunities. "When I look back at it, I was probably getting two reps to his 10 reps," he says. "That’s when it started to make sense. Even when I started, that doesn’t necessarily mean nothing and that’s here they did a good job of disguising it - ‘Cam took first team reps today.’"
--He doesn't believe that missing five days of camp for violating league unvaccinated protocols was the reason he lost the job.
--He does, however, feel "bamboozled" by the whole process, which he believes he handled to the letter. Explaining that he took the last opportunity he had to go get a second opinion on his lisfranc surgery, he explains, "I crossed all the lines, I checked all the boxes, I dotted all my i's. Then to find out that I had to sit out. But I'm like... that's when I kind of felt bamboozled, because I'm like, 'Y'all told me to go!'"
--Ultimately, he lost the QB 1 job because if he stayed as the backup, he'd be a distraction because of his "aura," and his third person references:
--And that "distraction" would extend to Mac Jones. That Jones would've been in the position of constantly looking over his shoulder. "It comes by the mere factor of me being me."
--Newton acknowledges how the Patriots offense is unlike any he's ever run before. "I've never been in a system that required me to know the MIKE, know the front, to identify certain fronts…Half of the NFL-I'd say 30 of 32 teams don't run this philosophy. It's in the center's call because he runs the protection"
--Though he denies the report from Rob Ninkovich that Jones was teaching him the playbook. "No. How can he teach me?"
--But leaves no doubt he think Jones will succeed. "He did do what he came to do. He proved that he can be productive, and he WILL be productive."
--And finally, while Cecil talks - as any father would - about how he thinks his son was done dirty by some in the media, Cam has no issue with Patriots fans.
So that's it. a lot of heavy lifting here. And it will take a while to sift through this to find the data recorder that explains how his career in New England crashed. How the Covid violation that left him "bamboozled" happened and who exactly screwed the pooch on that.
What we learned for sure is that Matt Patricia has an even bigger role in the organization than any of us realized. More than a consultant but handling contracts and being Belichick's closest advisor. We can surmise the Patriots were never as high on Newton as indicated by the fact he took first team reps from the spring all the way through Cut Day. We can confirm that Newton and his replacement worked well together, but that without a doubt Jones is a better system fit. And, from Newton's own way of describing himself, if they kept him around as a viable veteran backup, it would've been a negative, as he's too much of an oversized personality and Alpha for the dynamic to work.
Holy Schniekies, what an exclamation point to put on Cam Newton's 14 month Patriots career. I don't know how this helps him land another job. But you have to love living in an age where athletes have the freedom and ability to speak directly to the people who pay the bills. This is such a wild ride, I can't wait to see where he lands. Or if he ever plays again.
Funny though, after all this, the air doesn't feel any clearer.