Cam Newton hasn't forgotten.
The veteran quarterback was released by the Carolina Panthers in March, and despite his impressive career resume -- including a 2015 NFL MVP -- teams continued to pass on him in free agency until the New England Patriots signed him in late June.
Newton made those teams look foolish Sunday when he helped lead the Patriots to a 21-11 season-opening win over the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium.
He completed 15 of 19 pass attempts for 155 yards, in addition to tallying 75 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on 15 carries. Overall, it was another solid performance from Newton where he kept the defense guessing with his ability to make plays as both a passer and a rusher.
Newton, in his Monday morning appearance on WEE's "The Greg Hill Show", talked about the motivation he has to perform at a high level against teams that could've signed him during the offseason but didn't.
“I'll just put it like this -- there was a long time off,” Newton said. “There’s a docu-series that I do have coming out about ’86 Nights.’ And for any person who has felt forgotten, yeah, I do feel disrespected to a degree. And that’s making me even more loyal and excited to the Patriots organization for giving me an opportunity. Because a lot of people, who knows, seeing what they saw yesterday or seeing what they have been seeing, probably would have regretted (not signing me in free agency). But yet, it’s not for me to be the person to give out this, that and the third.
“I do feel like I wake up ticked off with things to prove to certain people, whether it’s players, whether it’s coaches, whether it’s GMs, whether it’s just God that blessed us with the sun today. I don’t need too much to get myself going. I’m self-proclaimed. I’m motivated for myself, and that’s what I do. So when I play teams that I do know had an opportunity to come get me, yeah, it’s an added advantage to want to go out and do more.”
Newton and his motivation to have a bounce-back season following an injury-plagued 2019 campaign and a lackluster free agency was a storyline throughout training camp, and so far, he certainly appears to be on a mission to prove his doubters wrong.
This is great for the Patriots, too, because as we saw during the previous 20 seasons with Tom Brady, a motivated quarterback with a chip on his shoulder can be a very powerful thing.
Newton and the Patriots have a lot to improve on, and the schedule will soon get much tougher, starting with a Week 2 matchup on the road against a Super Bowl contender in the Seattle Seahawks. But it's hard not to be encouraged by the initial results from the Newton-led Patriots following Week 1.