If Patriots fans aren’t familiar with quarterback Cam Newton, they should be. The 31-year-old is a former NFL MVP known for his style on the field and off of it. And he was just signed by the Patriots to a one-year deal.
Here are some things to know:
Previous NFL stop
Newton, who was signed Sunday night, most recently played for the Carolina Panthers before he was cut in March. New Panthers coach Matt Rhule said in late February that they “absolutely want Cam here,” but the team allowed Newton to seek a trade weeks later.
Newton pushed back against that characterization on social media, saying the team forced him into it.
“I never asked for it,” he wrote. “I love the [Panthers] to death and will always love you guys.”
Newton shares an alma mater with the man he’ll be competing against: Both he and Jarrett Stidham played at Auburn.
Newton transferred to the Alabama school after beginning his college career at Florida. After a brief stop in junior college — where he won the NJCAA national title for Blinn College — he landed on Gus Malzahn’s squad in 2010.
Newton would wind up leading the Tigers to a 13-0 record, a Southeastern Conference championship, and a national title that season en route to earning the Heisman Trophy. He threw for 2,854 yards and 30 touchdowns, and added another 1,473 yards and 21 TDs on the ground.
Those gaudy numbers helped him get drafted No. 1 overall that spring by Carolina.
Stidham, who started for Auburn for two seasons after transferring from Baylor, threw for 18 touchdowns in 2017 and 2018. The Tigers finished 10-4 in his first season — good for 10th in the final Associated Press rankings — and 8-5 in 2018. He was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round in 2019.
A banner year
Newton was on top of the football world in 2015 when he was named MVP after throwing for 35 touchdowns and rushing for 10 more. The Panthers went 15-1, losing in the second-to-last week of the season to the Falcons.
He led Carolina all the way to the Super Bowl after demolishing the Cardinals, 49-15, in the NFC Championship game. But he couldn’t finish it out, losing to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
He takes his style seriously
Newton doesn’t miss an opportunity to showcase his eclectic fashion style. You can expect to see him in some wild outfits at the interview podium.
For Newton, how he presents himself is very personal.
“Fashion is like beauty,” he said in a video posted by the Panthers in 2018. “It’s in the eye of the beholder.”
He said he even looks back on certain outfits and wonders what he was feeling in the moment.
“You know, you swing sometimes, and you hit a grand slam,” he said. “And you swing sometimes and you miss. But as long as you keep swinging.”
Caught up in drama
During the 2017 season, Newton had to apologize after laughing at a female reporter’s question and saying that it was “funny to hear a female” asking about technical football operations like running routes.
The reporter, Jourdan Rodrigue, said she spoke with Newton after the incident and that he did not apologize.
One of his sponsors, Dannon, said that it would end its relationship with the quarterback. (The NFL Network later reported his contract with the yogurt brand was about to expire anyway.)
A day after the interaction, Newton posted a video apology, calling his words toward Rodrigue “extremely degrading and disrespectful” but not citing her by name.
“To the reporters, to the journalists, to the moms — super moms — to the daughters, the sisters and the women all around the world, I sincerely apologize and hope that you can find the kindness of your heart to forgive me,” he wrote. “Thank you.”
Rodrigue herself had to apologize after insensitive Tweets she sent in college resurfaced.