Cam Newton has been a household name for over a decade. It comes with the territory when you’ve had the type of career he’s had. National championship, check. Alleged pay-for-play scandal, check. Heisman Trophy, check. No. 1 pick, check. Record-setting quarterback, check. Influential player on the culture, check. First Black quarterback to ever be the outright MVP, check. One of eight Black quarterbacks to ever start in a Super Bowl, check. It’s quite an impressive resume when you lay it all out. This brings us to this moment, in which Newton is the one that’s trying to erase all of it with his antics — again.
“Tell me how these randoms keep getting jobs?” Newton asked in a video he posted to social media on Monday. “Don’t worry about it. I’m going to show you. I can’t wait to show you.”
“Ain’t 32 motherf*ckers (starting quarterbacks) better than me.”
The highlight video showed Newton warming up and working out, as he announced that he will be participating in Auburn’s Pro Day on Tuesday. The man with the accomplished resume listed above is ready to make a comeback to the NFL after spending last season on the sidelines as a free agent.
To him, it’s impossible to believe that guys like Kenny Pickett, Kyle Trask, Desmond Ridder, Andy Dalton, and Sam Howell could all be starting on Week 1 of the 2023 season and he won’t. But for anybody that’s paid attention the last few years, it’s easy to see why they’re getting chances and Newton isn’t.
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The numbers explain it all. But, there’s some other stuff, too
If Newton was brought in by a team for training camp, he’d be a 34-year-old quarterback competing for a spot on the depth chart. Despite what Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have put us through the last few seasons, look around — the league is getting younger, not older, especially for quarterbacks.
And age is just the first number that isn’t on Newton’s side.
Since Newton left the Carolina Panthers — the first time — his stats have been the easiest case against him. Since showing up in New England in 2020, and between his time with the Patriots and a short stint with the Panthers, Newton has appeared in 23 games, started 20 of them, and has a record of 7-13. During that span he accounted for 29 touchdowns — 17 of which came on the ground — 10 fumbles, and 15 interceptions.
If Newton’s numbers weren’t enough of a deterrent, then his words did the rest. COVID-19 ended his run with the Patriots as he was initially against getting vaccinated.
“Everything is geared to win, and if you’re not built for that, that’s not the place for you,” he said about New England on an episode of I Am Athlete.
Then there was his return to the Panthers.
“Carolina, I put myself in another fucked up situation,” Newton explained on The Pivot Podcast last year. “I was signed on Thursday, I played on Sunday. At what point did you think you was gonna be successful? That next week, I started. That’s still up under 10 days of you being on the team, and you’re still trying to learn an offense. … So before I sit up here and allow the narrative to be made that Cam ain’t got it no more, Cam is taking full responsibility and saying that Cam put himself in a fucked up situation.”
And finally, a man that was once in hot water for some things he said to a female reporter, decided to share his views on women with a Barstool — go figure — podcast.
“A bad bitch is a person who’s just, you know, ‘Girl I’m a bad bitch, I’m doing this, I’m doing that.’ I look the part but I don’t act the part.
“There’s a lot of women who are bad bitches. And I say bitches in a way, not to degrade a woman but just to go off the aesthetic of what they deem is a boss chick.
“Now a woman, for me is, handling your own but knowing how to cater to a man’s needs. Right? And I think a lot of times when you get that aesthetic of ‘I’m a boss bitch, Imma this, Imma that.’ No baby! But you can’t cook. You don’t know when to be quiet! You don’t know how to allow a man to lead.”
If you’re reading this, it’s either before or after Newton has taken part in Auburn’s Pro Day. But despite how he performs, it won’t change any of the things that are stacked against him — many of which are his own doing.
Newton was once a generational force of nature on the football field with a résumé that was worthy of Hall of Fame consideration, and with a picture-perfect smile and the charisma to endorse any product on Earth. But that was then, and this is now. And at this moment, he’s a cigar bar owner and a podcast host that’s desperately trying to hold on to what has been his identity for almost the entirety of his life — quarterback.
Letting go is hard, but essential. And for Cam Newton, it’s also become necessary if he wants to keep his legacy intact. Because while there might not be 32 starting quarterbacks better than him in the NFL, there are even more who are less of a risk than he’s willingly become.