When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced Tom Brady as their new quarterback in March of this year, Patriots fans prepared for the process of cheering on Jarrett Stidham, the heir apparent to the New England dynasty.
And yet, the year 2020 stayed on brand with surprises when breaking free agency news left NFL fans shocked in June: Cameron Newton was officially a Patriot.
In March, the one-time league MVP was released by the Carolina Panther after nine seasons. But his career has suddenly been given new life.
Tyler Tynes, a reporter with The Ringer who just launched a new podcast about Newton called "The Cam Chronicles," joined 10 Questions with NBC10 Boston on Monday to give Patriots fans a little more background about what they can expect from the veteran quarterback.
This transcript has been lightly edited. Watch the full interview above.
NBC10 Boston: How did "The Cam Chronicles" come about? Why Cam Newton?
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
Tyler Tynes: As somebody who covers the intersection of race, politics and sports for The Ringer, who has been doing so for basically a half decade at this point, caring and documenting what's happening to Black quarterbacks all over the country, not just at a professional level, this is wildly important to me. If you think about Cam Newton, who has been the vanguard for a new class of Black quarterbacks right now in the league, who has been a trendsetter with the fashion going around the NFL ...[and] the actual offensive principles that are happening right now in the league, he is somebody who needs to be documented and a lot of the things that Cam has been involved in and people have done about him have been incomplete.
One of your sources was Cecil Newton Sr., Cam Newton's father, and he talks about how strict he was with his sons growing up, especially raising Black sons in this country. Why do you think it is so important for him to have instill that discipline in his son, even if he didn't play football?
Cecil Newton is a man of the church. He gave his life to Christ when he was 21. He met his wife in her father's church. God, family and football for someone who used to be a professional and has [another] son who did play [in the NFL], is important to how he's going to raise his boys and he has a very specific ideology when it comes to how he wants to raise those boys. The Bishop Cecil Newton's got a certain way of life ... but once you meet him it makes a lot of sense where Cam has come from.
What did you learn from this process about the biggest pressures that Black quarterbacks experience in the NFL?
When you think about Black athletes specifically, we consider them to be the large people on the moral scoreboards to our rat race of equality and equity, and that's just not how this works ... We don't afford the space for our Black athletes, our politicians or our Black lawyers of the time to be different than what we believe is our politics. If something is happening with Black culture, we assume that people like Cam Newton or any other quarterback or athlete should be thinking one way, but we don't afford these Black people the space to not be monolithic. That's the thing about Cam Newton. Whether you liked it or loved him for what he said when it came to race in 2016, the protests in Charlotte in 2016, how he treated Jourdan Rodrigue in 2017... He is a man that is very similar to Cecil Newton as somebody who doesn't like to look back on his mistakes but he will tell you he's made them.
The reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson was asked to workout as a wide receiver during his scouting combine tryout in 2018. In the podcast, we hear that only three schools recruited Cameron Newton as a quarterback. Why is there still a lack of Black NFL quarterbacks?
If Cam Newton has trained his entire life to be a quarterback, but you see somebody big, you see somebody Black, you see somebody athletic in stature, we assume, "Oh my god, he'd be a great tight end." They do the same thing with LeBron James all the time. "LeBron James would be a great tight end." "Zion Williamson would be a great defensive back," but the reality is they're good at what they do and we should let them do that.
Assuming Cam Newton secures the starting QB role for the Patriots, he will only be the second Black quarterback to start for the team. Jacoby Brissett was first in 2016. What does that say about how much more progress the NFL still needs?
The idea that we have reached some sort of threshold where it is now progressive to have as many Black quarterbacks in the NFL is baffling. It's not equity. Here's the thing. We're not looking for equality, we are looking for equity. This is not going to be enough until half of the starters [coaches and executives] in the league are Black.
If you're monetizing a sport where over 70% of the athletes who take place in the sport are Black, then those Black people need the same equity, financially, in other places as the rest of the people who actually operate within this space. We are nowhere near done. This is actually just the beginning.
What do you think will be the key to his success here in New England?
I think the key to his success will be his attitude, honestly. When you think about Cam Newton, the last time he was counted out, the first time he was a real free agent, was when he left the University of Florida [to decide] between Auburn and Mississippi State. When Cam had to leave Florida he went to Blinn [College] and won a national championship, when he left Blinn [College] he went to Auburn and won a national championship and had arguably the greatest season we've ever seen in college football... This time you're counting him out, he's going to the best franchise in football history not named the Philadelphia Eagles, and so I wouldn't bet against that man. [Coach] Belichick will help, of course, [The offensive coordinator's] gonna help, but this is gonna be a Cam revenge tour. He's gonna turn the New England Patriots into 2010 Auburn
What surprised you the most during your podcast research?
The thing that surprised me the most was just how devout he was in his faith, and the things that he was willing to go to. I think we see Cam Netwon kind of like a mysterious recluse, a very private kind of guy. He is that way on purpose, I've learned. The reality is is that we have miscontextualized and done wrong quarterbacks and Black folks like him that being averse to the press is something that is natural, honestly... This is a person who hasn't done a sit-down [interview] in five years and is still a massive humanitarian, still very involved in his church where his father is the bishop and pastor. You assume that something like this could just kind of be like a scam... but you go down there and Cam is speaking from the pulpit and preaching from the pulpit and has a big hand in what goes in that church... This dude is as authentic as he has been telling us for 10 years and we at so many different turns failed to believe in what he told us about who he was. And now, he's on a revenge tour.
You can find all six episodes of "The Cam Chronicles" miniseries here and on your favorite podcasting apps.