Cam Newton on returning to Patriots, Aaron Hernandez

After a New England Patriots debut season in which Cam Newton threw more interceptions than touchdowns, the former NFL MVP says he heard the retirement talk.

He’s not having it.

In an appearance on the “I’m an Athlete” podcast with former NFL players Chad Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Fred Taylor, Newton made it clear that he intends to keep playing. And he believes he remains a starting-caliber quarterback in the NFL.

‘I can’t go out like this’

“Hell no,” Newton said of retirement. “I can’t go out like this. I listen to all that talk. My pride won’t let me do it. There aren’t 32 guys better than me.”

After two injury-plagued seasons with the Carolina Panthers, Newton, 31, had little resemblance to the electric quarterback who accompanied his Superman persona during his MVP prime.

He started out strong when the Patriots won two of their first three games with Newton in center. It combined for six touchdowns against two turnovers at the 2-1 start, giving New England hope that the Patriots could find success after Tom Brady.

COVID-19 Harasses Newton’s Season

But Newton contracted COVID-19 and did not dress for a Week 4 game against the Kansas City Chiefs. When he returned in Week 5 against the Denver Broncos, the Patriots’ offense stalled and New England embarked on a three-game losing streak. When the season ended, the Patriots had missed the playoffs at 7-9, and Newton had scored eight passing touchdowns against 10 interceptions.

The one-season experiment in New England was far from successful.

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo / Elise Amendola)

Did COVID-19 play a role in Newton’s performance?

Newton said he did not suffer any major COVID-19 symptoms outside of loss of smell. But when he returned to the New England lineup, he felt lost time turned out to be a major setback for a quarterback in a new system. Especially after a preseason that was stunted by the pandemic.

“By the time I got back, I wasn’t feeling comfortable either physically or skillfully,” Newton said. “Much of that discomfort occurred before the shot. …

“I’m lost. I’m overthinking … The offense continued, and I was stopped and stalled for two weeks. By the time I got back, it was new terminology … just trying to learn a system for what it was, I was learning, let’s be honest. , a system of 20 years in two months “.

Cam on re-signing with Patriots: ‘Hell yeah’

So Newton, a pending free agent, wants another shot in New England even if he comes up with another one-year contract?

“Yeah. Hell yeah,” Newton said. “I’m getting tired of changing. I’m at a point in my career where I know a lot more than I did last year.”

Whether the Patriots want Newton back is a different matter entirely. After the bitter taste of third place in the AFC East, they may be ready to turn the page. For now, there is no apparent answer as a quarterback in New England.

If New England, or any other potential Newton suitor, is looking for a silver lining to his 2020 campaign, it’s that he was still effective as a running back, adding 592 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground at 4.3 yards per carry.

Cam talks about his former college teammate Aaron Hernandez

Newton did not stick strictly to soccer during the fluent discussion. The topic of Aaron Hernandez also came up. Newton played college in Florida with a former NFL player who died in prison by suicide while serving a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd.

He said that the Hernández he knew was a different man.

“I saw the youngest,” Newton said. “The way they portray him as a villain, it’s not him. Don’t get me wrong, in all aspects of what happened, there were damaged bodies and I don’t deny that what was done was wrong. But I knew a beautiful soul. He loved fun and just wanted to get to the league. “

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