Former New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton broke his silence Friday on the climatic end to this summer's quarterback competition. Dubbing Sept. 10 as "Funky Friday," Newton took to YouTube, alongside his father, Cecil, for a live broadcast titled, “Clearing the Air After My Release from the New England Patriots.”
For nearly 45 minutes, Newton opened up about his release from the Patriots, his thoughts on Mac Jones being selected as the starter, and (perhaps, most prominently) reiterated that his playing days are not yet done.
Here are some of the highlights of Friday’s “Clearing the Air After My Release from the New England Patriots”:
On being cut by the Patriots:
"Did it catch me by surprise being released? Absolutely. Do I think this would have happened without me being away from the team for five days? Honestly? Yes. It was going to happen. Did it help ease the decision? Yes."
On how he was notified about his release:
“I walked in [to the Patriots team facility] and they were like, ‘Wait Wait, Cam … Bill [Belichick] wants to meet with you.’ I’m like, ‘OK, cool, but Bill’s office is down here.’ They were like, ‘No, he’s in here.’ And that’s when I was like, ‘Oh, OK, I see what’s going on.’ When I got in the meeting, Bill was there, Patricia was there. At that time they told me they were going to give the reins to Mac. I’m like ‘OK cool.’ It didn’t dawn on me that you all released me. I was confused. We were all shocked. It was uncomfortable for everybody."
On Mac Jones as the starting quarterback in New England:
“They [Patriots] are going to win games with Mac Jones. Mac is good enough”
On whether he would have remained in New England as a backup:
“I was gonna be a distraction without being the starter, it’s just my aura. That’s my gift and my curse. When you bring a ‘Cam Newton’ to your franchise, people are interested. If they would’ve asked me, I would have said absolutely. But the truth of the matter is this: Mac would’ve been uncomfortable, and it comes by the mere fact of me being me.”
On the structures of training camp practices:
"When I look back at it, I was probably getting two reps to his 10 reps, even though I was starting. But that doesn't mean anything. They did a good job of disguising it … [I] took first team reps, but they [media] didn't know the practice structure."
On reports of Mac Jones ‘teaching him the playbook’:
"No. How can he teach me? What can he [Mac Jones] teach me when it's coming at him faster than it's coming at me? Mac was cool. He was a person who was young. He was still trying to find his way. That’s why I’m saying what can he teach me when it’s coming at him faster than it’s coming at me? We were helping each other.”
On picking up the Patriots offense:
"I've never been in a system that required me to know the MIKE (middle linebacker on defense), know the front, to identify certain fronts ... Half of the NFL … I would say 30 of 32 teams don't run this philosophy. It's in the center's call because he runs the protection."
On why the decision at quarterback has to be made now:
"There's nothing that I could do. Mac Jones didn't beat me out. But I would have been a distraction knowing that - if they would have given him the starting role - the perception it would have had. With that [2021 Patriots] roster, you can win right now. If you go 4-1 or 5-0, you can't - you're locked in."
On whether his vaccination status played a role in his release from New England:
“This had nothing to do with no vaccination."
On his future in the NFL:
“There are not 32 other guys out there that are better than me. [My career] isn’t over. But, spending time with my family in the fall is nice, I haven't been able to do that because of football.”