Cam Newton’s first season with the New England Patriots hardly qualifies as a vacation, even though the veteran quarterback is doing his part to “lighten the mood” in Foxboro.
In fact, it’s very much a “business trip” for Newton, who signed a one-year contract with New England over the offseason and is taking seriously the opportunity to prove he’s still among the NFL’s elite.
“I am a person who takes anything to heart — I mean anything,” Newton said Monday on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show.” “The whole decision — and not to keep beating a dead horse — this is a business trip for me. The fact that I don’t have none of my children here in Boston with me, and the fact that I haven’t been able to see them on a regularity, that’s angry in itself for me. I wake up every morning missing the hell out of my children and knowing that if I don’t do what I am supposed to do, then this could be good riddance for me. That is as serious as I’m making it, and that’s as serious it is.”
Newton spent 86 nights as a free agent after being released by the Carolina Panthers in March, only becoming more motivated with each of earth’s rotations. He eventually joined the Patriots on a team-friendly deal in wake of Tom Brady’s departure from New England and landed the starting quarterback job over Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer.
So far, it’s been a tremendous match, with Newton looking like the top-flight signal-caller he was for most of his Carolina tenure upon being drafted No. 1 overall in 2011. He’s left little doubt he still has plenty in the tank at age 31, leading the Patriots to a 2-1 start by delivering an overall strong performance with both his arm and his legs.
“I have so much to prove. I could care less about other critics, but more or less I have so much to prove to myself,” said Newton, who battled injuries in recent years. “I have seen a lot of great football being played. I have seen a lot of great football being played over the time that I was injured and whatnot. You have to question yourself and question the man that you are and say, ‘Can you still play at a high level?’ There’s an expectation that I have for myself, and I’m trying to just meet it every single day of my life.”
The debate surrounding Newton now is less about whether he can play and more about whether he’s New England’s long-term answer at quarterback. If he continues to succeed throughout this season, Newton should generate far more interest on the open market than he did following his release from Carolina, and the Patriots thus might need to drop a significant chunk of cash to keep him around.
Surely, a hefty payday would go a long way toward validating Newton’s status as a premier QB. He’s not necessarily eyeing dollar signs, though. Instead, he’s focused on producing between the lines at the level he’s been accustomed to throughout his football life.
“It’s always about taking care of business,” Newton said. “My focus is so nearsighted that I’m trying to make things work, and if I am looking for long-term results with not too many things to have leverage on, then that’s not good. For me, I just look at the opportunity that I have been given — and it is a great opportunity, I’ll tell you that, and I think people already know that. It’s up to me about how I finish what I started. It’s not necessarily about the things that people want to make it about. It’s about going out and and every week and first off winning, and then everything else falls in place.”
Newton entered this season facing immense pressure, stemming from both his personal NFL journey and the awkwardness of replacing the greatest quarterback in league history. All he’s done since is rise to the occasion.
Not a bad business trip to this point, all things considered.
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