Cam Newton looks back on his journey to become the first black quarterback to start the Patriots season


“Dude, listen, and I say it proudly, when I grew up in Atlanta, Michael Vick was my hero,” Newton said. “Even today, Michael Vick is my hero. I’m not too proud to say it.

Michael Vick and Cam Newton leave the field together after a 2012 contest in Philadelphia.Mel evans

The line of black quarters – of Marlin briscoe and Joe gilliam at Randall Cunningham and Warren Moon in Vic and Vince Young – left an impression on Newton.

“Vince Young was my hero,” Newton said. “Randall Cunningham was someone I knew, I didn’t really see him play growing up, but those kinds of athletes. Donovan mcnabb. African-American quarters. Seeing these guys play is the main reason I have this opportunity now.

For reasons close to him and reasons that meet at the intersection of sport and society, the importance of entering Week 1 as a Patriots starting quarterback is not lost on Newton. .

Newton will only be the second black quarterback to start a game in the franchise’s 60-year history. He will be the first to start a season opener.

Cam Newton gives Rex Burkhead a top five in recent training at Foxborough.
Cam Newton gives Rex Burkhead a top five in recent training at Foxborough.Jim Davis / Globe staff

“It’s a big deal. It’s a really big deal, ”Newton said. “I understand who I am, I understand that being an African American right now we need to be stronger and stick together more than ever now. It’s a great achievement to achieve, but at the end of the day we have to make sure that we are using our platform for positive reasons, and that’s what I want to do. I want to prove to people that there is more to a person than what you see on the outside.

Newton is one of four black quarterbacks to win NFL MVP honors. Before Newton won it in 2015, only Steve mcnair had achieved the feat. Since then, three of the last five winners have been blacks.

Being able to lead a team again after losing some of his elite to a Lisfranc fracture and being released by the Carolina Panthers in March has allowed Newton to consider his new situation not only with pride, but also with gratitude and perspective.

” It’s a big problem. It really is a big deal. I understand who I am, I understand that being an African American right now we need to be stronger and stick together more than ever now. It’s a great achievement to achieve, but at the end of the day we have to make sure that we are using our platform for positive reasons, and that’s what I want to do. I want to prove to people that there is more to a person than what you see on the outside.

Cam Newton is just the second Black QB to start a game in the franchise’s 60-year history

“I am a person who has had a second, third and fourth chance in my life and yet, through it all, it should always be about who that person is, not how he looks,” a- he declared. “And as long as I have this opportunity to make an impact and empower the community, be it the black community, be it the white community, whatever community it is, I just want to do my part. as a Good Samaritan on Earth. “

Until 2016, the Patriots were one of only two teams in the NFL that did not have a black quarterback. That changed when Jacoby Brissett started for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo.

When Newton signed his one-year contract with the Patriots in July, the defensive back Devin mccourty said he immediately thought about what this meant for the franchise. He figured his nephew might look at the Patriots with Newton as one of his captains.

“He’s 4 now and he looks at different quarters and sees things,” McCourty said. “I think of other young black kids and I grew up with the mindset of when you were in Pop Warner and things like that, a lot of kids had to be running backs or receivers. never really thought he was a quarterback. or if he was a quarterback, I feel like you were told to run instead.

“Obviously, Cam being here – and I didn’t even know it – but to be the second black quarterback to be there as a starter and the first for opening week, I think it’s an honor . This is something none of us should take lightly because of the history of our country and the different things that have happened. “

Cam Newton and Devin McCourty enter the field ahead of a recent training session at Foxborough.
Cam Newton and Devin McCourty enter the field ahead of a recent training session at Foxborough.Steven Senne / Associated press

Newton said he also believed his children could see him as he saw Vick.

“They’re not at an age right now where their expectations are high or they know who their dad is or what their dad is doing, it’s sooner or later when they get to that age and they’re well-connected to figuring out who. is your dad and how he did certain things. I want them to know that I did it the right way, “he said.” I was myself all the time, I have done well with people, I was good with people, I was a respectful young man, and through it all I think I like it and want to make the most of it. “

As important as it may be to extend that line, Newton is grateful to be a starting QB again.

“I keep saying it but I can’t say it enough, and it comes from a person like listen, two or three months ago I was questioning a lot of things,” he said. . “Right now, as I look at Gillette and the iconic Patriots logo, how can I lose? You know what I’m saying?

“I was at home training every day just for a moment, and God put me in this position that I won’t take for granted. I pray countless nights, meditate countless days, got so much advice from my support cast, friends, family, loved ones that was like “man, go on, go on. I couldn’t go to the grocery store, I couldn’t pick up my kids from daycare without people saying something.

If he’s got weight on his shoulders, whether it’s to prove he can still play at MVP level or to follow the legendary career Tom brady built in New England, Newton said he didn’t feel it.

“It’s not pressure for me,” he said. “The pressure is when you look at your kids and say you’re 31 and you don’t know – you’re not ready to retire but no one calls you. It’s the pressure. When you are not in control of your destiny.

“So for me I’m elated, I’m excited I’m all that and a bag of crisps because I knew if God didn’t do me a favor, man, who knows where I would be right now And yet , through it all, I’m going to smile because I’m going to love this whole moment. I just got another chance and I have to get through it.

“I have to do well by this opportunity, I have to do well through my community, I have to do well through my children, I have to do well by the black man who sees me that I I will never meet, but I also have to do the good with the white man who sees me that I will never meet but who admires me and has a very high self-esteem. So all through it all man it’s me, and I’m gonna make the most of it .

Gilmore on injury report

Stephon Gilmore was added to Thursday's injury report.
Stephon Gilmore was added to Thursday’s injury report.Steven Senne / Associated press

Stephane Gilmore was a surprise addition to the Patriots injury report with a hamstring issue that limited him to Thursday practice. Gilmore, defensive player of the year, set to face receiver In front of Parker (also limited by a hamstring injury) in one of the most intriguing games of Sunday’s opener against the Dolphins. Tight end rookie Dalton keene (neck) was the only other addition to the report. Receivers Julien edelman (knee) and Gunner Olszewski (foot) and linebacker Cash Malouia (knee) were also limited. Defensive end Chase winovich (shoulder) was upgraded to a full participant.

Adjustment set to IR

The Patriots stepped onto the offensive line, setting up a tackle Yodny Cajuste in the reserve of the wounded. He was the only Patriot to miss shell and sweat training. He has the right to come back in three weeks. Cajuste, a third-round draft pick (101st overall) in 2019, has yet to play a game for the Patriots… The Patriots had ex-Bills and an XFL kicker / kicker Austin rehkow for a workout, according to the Houston Chronicle. The Patriots also tried an offensive tackle Caleb benenoch, who was with the club briefly in 2019.

Jim McBride of Globe staff contributed to this report.


Julian Benbow can be contacted at [email protected]

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