FOXBORO -- Cam Newton knows what it's like to play football in front of stadiums packed with rowdy SEC fanatics. He knows what it's like to play in a Super Bowl with the world watching. He also knows what it's like to play within spitting distance from cow patties.
For him, he told reporters Friday, playing in empty stadiums in 2020 isn't all that new to him.
"Let me tell you something about me," he said. "I played a lot of football in my day from college football, high school football, junior college football, professional football, recreational football. I done played a lot of football in different atmospheres.
"I would describe this particular atmosphere on a higher level -- and when I say 'higher' I really mean 'higher' -- it's kind of like junior college. I feel like in a lot of ways, at this point in my life, it kind of feels like that as well. I have so much to prove with an opportunity of a lifetime."
Newton, of course, spent one season at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas after transferring from the University of Florida early in his collegiate career. Playing for coach Brad Franchione, he led the team to the 2009 Juco national title as one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country. That was enough to land him back in the SEC, with Auburn, where he won the BCS National Championship and the Heisman Trophy the very next year.
While his experience at Blinn might've been a humbling one, it let Newton know that he could thrive in adverse situations. That season was a lifeline for him to continue his career. He made the most of it, and he hopes to do the same in New England.
Fans in the stands or no fans in the stands.
"There's many times we played games in front of . . . ourselves," Newton said. "It was meaningful games, but at the end of the day everybody didn't necessarily show up. I don't play this game just for the validation of people. I love the fans and I love the energy that our fans do bring. I can't wait, because that's something that I've never seen (in New England) but something that I've witnessed on the other side . . . I can't wait until the doors open.
"But, for me, this is not a foreign position for me to be in because I've played in front of nobody before. At the end of the day, it's gonna come down to being very strategic on both sides to see who executes the most or who executes the best."
NFL Media reported on Thursday that home teams for each game this season would be forced to pipe in a league-provided crowd noise recording at 70 decibels from the time the ball is kicked off. The Patriots played with that type of recording inside Gillette Stadium last week for their "game simulation," which we described here.
It felt strange -- an empty stadium, with noise, but no cheers -- but Newton, apparently, isn't fazed.