There was Patriots news everywhere Sunday night. For the third time since 2007, the Patriots were spanked by the NFL in a cheating scandal, this time losing $1.1 million and a third-round pick for videotaping an upcoming opponent’s sideline.
While this story was breaking, The New York Times resurfaced a Globe report that a three-judge panel in Florida this week will review a ruling that tossed video evidence from Bob Kraft’s solicitation charges at the Orchids of Asia spa in early 2019.
Oh, and in the same evening, we learned that Cam Newton, a former Super Bowl quarterback who was MVP of the NFL in 2015, is signing a one-year, make-good contract with the Patriots.
That's a lot of news in the middle of a pandemic when no games are being played in any of our four major sports.
The Newton news trumps all. It’s the biggest pandemic sports news in Boston since St. Patrick’s Day, when we woke up to Tom Brady telling us he was taking his talents to Tampa Bay.
Patriots quarterback Cam Newton.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
A New England sports world with Cam Newton quarterbacking the Patriots is a better sports world for all of us. It enhances the Brady-vs.-Belichick narrative that has gripped the region for the past couple of years. It keeps the Patriots as favorites in the AFC East. The Bills, Dolphins, and Jets are Charlie Brown, and Lucy just pulled the football away. Again.
If Cam Newton is healthy enough to be the starting quarterback of the Patriots, it will scare the hell out of the rest of the NFL.
Imagine Josh McDaniels (who likes mobile quarterbacks) tweaking the Patriots offense to take advantage of Newton’s running skills. Imagine the Patriots with a big, mobile quarterback with a big arm and a big chip on his shoulder. Imagine the fashion statements Newton can make at the Gillette Stadium podium after games.
We suspected Tom was being dressed by Gisele. Newton’s closet borrows from Superfly, Al Capone, Dennis Rodman, and Lady Gaga.
Even his name is star-powered. Monday’s New York Post back cover twinned the New England cheating penalty (does this make David Mondillo the Patriots’ J.T. Watkins?) with the acquisition of Newton, headlined, “SPY CAM!”
Five years ago, Newton was The Big Thing in the NFL. A Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick, he threw for 3,837 yards and 35 touchdowns in his 15-1 Super Bowl season. He was MVP in a season when Brady and Peyton Manning were playoff quarterbacks. In his career, he has rushed for 58 touchdowns and almost 5,000 yards.
Shoulder and foot issues derailed his career, and it’s hard to know what the Patriots will be getting when the 31-year-old Newton shows up in Foxborough. He played only two games last year, hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since 2018, and was released after the Panthers gave his job to free agent Teddy Bridgewater.
It’s the ultimate low-risk, potentially high-reward Bill Belichick move. If Newton is remotely healthy, he starts over Jarrett Stidham, and Stidham gets another year of on-the-job training. If Newton isn’t healthy, he’s banished to the Haynesworth Highway. It’ll be like he was never here. Newton is 0-8 in his last eight NFL starts. He’s 11 years younger than Brady, but he might be an “old” 31.
Newton’s outsized personality is guaranteed to bring noise to traditionally staid Gillette. He calls himself Superman. He is prone to malaprops, and it was once said that his choreographed touchdown dances require their own TV timeouts. (Google “Cam Newton” and “The Dab.”)
He was universally ripped when he didn’t jump on his own fumble in the Super Bowl loss to the Broncos. He’s a diva’s diva, but when he is healthy, Newton is tougher to tackle than your average tight end. Social media posts suggest that Newton’s new teammates are over the moon about him coming to Foxborough.
And why not?
The Patriots just replaced a Super Bowl, NFL MVP quarterback with a Super Bowl, NFL MVP quarterback.
This is a big story in our news-starved sports summer of 2020.