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‘Family, friends’ got Newton though 95 days of unemployment

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 12: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers runs off the field after their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium on September 12, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 12: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers runs off the field after their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium on September 12, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

How long were those 95 days when Cam Newton sat mulling his NFL future, jobless, between late March and late June?

“Well, honestly, the wait was so long that I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say that a lot of different potentials didn’t kind of creep into your mind,” the quarterback told reporters Friday on a video conference call, his first official interaction with the press since his team of nine years, the Carolina Panthers, cut him March 24 and his new team, the New England Patriots, signed him for a rock-bottom prove-it salary on June 28.

“Yet through it all I had an unbelievable supporting cast,” Newton said. “My family, friends were the ones who kept on the straight and narrow and kept me focused … I used that as fuel.”

Newton, 31, is battling second-year Jarrett Stidham and journeyman backup Brian Hoyer to succeed Tom Brady as Patriots starter.

In most off-seasons, a quarterback of Newton’s considerable, if at times maddeningly raw, talents — he was the 2015 NFL MVP — would not have gone unclaimed as an unrestricted free agent for nine hours, let alone for 95 days. But almost every team this year was settled at starting quarterback by the time Newton was let go in Carolina.

New England seemed like an auto-fit, but the Patriots held the upper hand and clearly waited until Newton agreed to a low-cost, one-year deal that can max out at only $7.5 million if various incentives are met.

Newton should ultimately win the Patriots job, if not initially, what with having only a month of on-field team workouts to digest everything new.

He would not say when was the last time he had to battle for a starting job before a football season. Probably high school. But he said he’s up for the challenge.

“It’s a breath of fresh air, to be honest with you. And it’s a challenge that I have to accept each and every day. But no challenge is greater than the personal challenge that I (give) myself.”

To that point, Newton said “I’ve got my hands full” with trying to learn everything.

“You compete every year. It doesn’t matter how much a person’s paid, it doesn’t matter how much a person is experienced, it doesn’t matter how much a person knows or doesn’t know. We’re all competing each and every day, and I’ve always been competing each and every day. It didn’t matter what the team was, because at the end of the day you’re one game away (from losing the job) — as I’ve learned in this past year — and it’s just about proving your worth and doing your part.”

How much does Newton have to prove? Nothing to anyone else, he said.

“I have to prove it to myself. I don’t think anybody else’s expectations can ever surpass my expectations for myself. I’m looking forward to the whole challenge.”

As for how he’s meshing with notoriously strict Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and his whole to-get-along-you-go-along program, Newton said this:

“Listen, there are a lot of things that — I’ll just say that there’s a perception. But at the end of the day, it’s just football. I’ve loved it ever since I’ve been here. I’ve been here going on a week now, and you hear rumours about certain things. But once you finally get settled in on things like that, none of that really matters. It’s just all about finding a way to improve your worth on the team.”


NFL Network reported Friday that New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker has been charged with four counts of robbery with a firearm in Broward County, Fla., and, if convicted, faces a minimum 10-year jail sentence.

The 22-year-old and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar were both accused of stealing cash and watches from four men at a party in Miramar on May 13.

Authorities have dropped charges against Dunbar. NFL Network said there wasn’t enough evidence.

Both players remain on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, meaning they can be with their team at team facilities, rehab any injuries and get paid, but cannot practise or play in games. Neither takes up an active-roster spot.


The NFL and its chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, announced late Friday afternoon that modified COVID-19 detection procedures have been sent to all clubs.

Positive tests do not always equal new infections, Sills said on a conference call with reporters.

Amendments to the league’s coronavirus protocols, now in effect, include these key changes:

(1) Because some cleared, formerly infected individuals persistently test positive for up to many months afterward — even though, clinically, they are coronavirus-free — “no additional testing will be required” of such individuals for 30 days after the first positive test.

(2) What Sills labelled an “unconfirmed positive test” occurs when an individual registers a single positive test sandwiched between strings of negative daily tests, before and afterward, despite a continuing absence of COVID-19 symptoms (that is, they are asymptomatic), and no known history of having had the coronavirus. For those individuals, two confirmatory nasal-swab tests shall be run on the day following a positive test result. That individual (a player, coach or team employee) will remain isolated until those two test results are known 24 hours later. If both tests are negative, “then we would consider that individual not to be COVID-infected,” Sills said, and such individuals may resume all normal activities. But a positive follow-up test is deemed as confirmation, and the individual must isolate.

This change surely came about in the wake of the false-positive test Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford registered last weekend, although Sills did not say that.

“In doing 75,000 tests over the first two weeks (of training camp) you collect a lot of learning,” Sills said.

(3) If an “invalid,” “inconclusive” or “technical error” test result is reported, then that individual will be tested twice at the next opportunity and then again as further confirmation. If any of these follow-up tests are positive, the individual is deemed to have COVID-19. Otherwise, not.

(4) Face shields are not an acceptable substitute for facemasks and all personnel in team settings “must use facemasks at all times when in the club facility” except when “physical activity prevents their use (at which times they are encouraged when possible).”

Sills furthermore on the call would not rule out extending daily testing past the first two weeks of training camp, which the NFLPA is pushing for; would not say what the rate of false-positives is with the two lower-nasal tests the league and NFLPA are administering; would not rule out the possibility of the NFL moving toward a “bubble” model of mitigating COVID-19 risk, as numerous other pro sports leagues worldwide have implemented this summer.


Former NFL head coach Jim Caldwell seldom does interviews anymore, but he said a lot in a podcast with one of his former Detroit Lions players, Glover Quin.

According to transcripted quotes posted at, Caldwell not only said he didn’t think GM Bob Quinn wanted to keep him upon succeeding fired GM Martin Mayhew after the 2015 season (Caldwell lasted two more years), but all but said the Lions were wrong for shipping out disgruntled players over the past two years, such as Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay.

“I don’t believe in getting rid of good players,” Caldwell told Quin. “I see that happen all over the league. It’s crazy. I see guys run guys out of the building that are excellent football players. I’ not just talking about Detroit, OK?

“I don’t understand that. It’d take you four, five years to find another player like that, and you’re going to run that guy out of the building? Find a way to work with that guy.”

That was Caldwell’s specialty. He was a far better head coach than anyone gave him credit for, especially in Detroit.

He took a health leave as an assistant coach under Brian Flores with the Miami Dolphins, but told Quin he’s now “feeling great, actually,” after an unspecified “issue” popped up that caused him to ultimately lose 32 pounds, which “could be corrected without surgery” and required a change of diet.

Caldwell also revealed why he wore two wristwatches on game days with the Lions. Then-owner Martha Ford would have watches made for special individuals, and she had one made for him. Her late husband, longtime Lions owner William Clay Ford, “had a similar watch, and so on game day I always wore that watch in honour of her, and what it meant to her.”


A U.S. bankruptcy judge approved the sale of the defunct XFL to a holding company controlled by actor Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson, according to Daniel Kaplan of A source told Kaplan that the league’s return as soon as next spring is “unlikely.”


OLB Vic Beasley reported to the Tennessee Titans after failing to report for more than a week … San Francisco signed DE Dion Jordan. The No. 3 overall draft pick in 2013 started only four of 50 career games with Miami, Seattle and Oakland … Detroit waived DT Waylon Mack … Miami activated three players off reserve/COVID-19.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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