Letter to Cam Newton: A quick 'Patriot Way' course

Former Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1), in middle, signals his first down in the middle of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. He is expected to compete for the Patriots starting quarterback position. Bill Burt says he expects Newton to win the job and offers some advice as Newton enters this new venture.(AP Photo/Bob Leverone, File)

Dear Cam,

I’ve seen some of your tweets and Instagram posts. It appears you are ready to become a New England Patriot.

The work ethic. The weight room. The disrespect. The playbook. Etc., etc.

Everything you said was understandable. You were letting off steam.

For two months you were at the bottom after seeing the franchise you helped put on the map, the Carolina Panthers, choose another guy trying to rehab his career, Teddy Bridgewater.

Now, you are on top of the world. Bill Belichick, the greatest coach that ever lived, chose you.

“Bleep you, my haters,” has been the theme.

Now comes the hard part.

It is not easy being a Patriot. It’s unlike anything in pro sports.

Here are five things to understand if you want this experience to match your excitement:

 

Only winning matters

If quarterback rating, a Pro Bowl berth or 30 passes per game (your career average) are important to you, this is not going to work.

This place is different. If you throw the ball 23 times, and win the game, you are a winner and, get most of the glory as quarterbacks usually do.

This will be more like your college experience at Auburn, where you made plays and were defined by your success rate.

 

Offense won’t revolve around you

This will be the toughest part of your experience, at least early on. You will be a role player.

The Tom Brady Offense we became accustomed to disappeared after the 2017 season. Coach Belichick decided defense, ball-control, special teams and clutch play by the quarterback would be the Patriots style. Brady hated it. He wanted a bigger role.

Now, this could change. Your style, which is move around and create plays, is something we haven’t seen in these parts since Steve Grogan and his neck brace were behind center.

If you running the ball, on average, five times a game makes this offense better and unpredictable, go for it.

 

Money is secondary

If being a Patriot is important to you, which it appears to be, don’t haggle over money. And I’m not talking about your paltry minimum deal and incentive-laden contract that could net you $7.5 million through December.

I’m talking 2021 and beyond.

You have collected $121 million in NFL checks thus far. You are set for life. If you want to potentially be part of something special, maybe win a Super Bowl or two, it won’t be anywhere near Patrick Mahomes’ new deal.

The point is money is why players leave New England. But most of those dudes needed it. You don’t.

Losses will be your fault

You play quarterback, thus you will take the biggest hit on Sundays after losses. Sorry, it goes with the position.

Also, losses are akin to losing a family member around here. We’re not used to it. Belichick is miserable at press conferences after losses. And fans, who easily forget the six Super Bowl rings, complain as if the Patriots are Bengals.

Play the game. Be miserable in front of the media. But be the solution when in front of your teammates.

Pats need a leader

For most of the last two decades, Brady has been the leader.

If you are very good, or even good, you probably need to be that guy out of the gate.

When opposing players came to New England, they were afraid of letting Brady down. That’s what leaders do. They command respect.

There really isn’t anybody on the current roster that can do that. Maybe it can be you. In fact, it would be best if it were you.

 

January, February will define you

Looking at the amount of interest you received and the paltry contract you signed, you, Cam, have a lot to prove.

Most pro football experts believe the QB position at 1 Patriot Place is your job to lose. You have been there before and have more than held up your end of the bargain.

But this is different.

You will be judged here on your performance, really the team’s performance, in January and February.

The Patriots Dynasty appears to be on life supports. Not only did Brady and Rob Gronkowski leave, but two of their best defenders, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, also left.

But with Belichick still pulling the strings, creating the Wednesday game plans, anything is possible.

You could actually become a legend, with a Super Bowl ring, maybe two or three, added to your resume.

Here’s hoping you have the time of your life and fulfill every dream in “Cam Newton 2.0.”

Luck is part of the equation, too. But in the end, you will make your own luck.

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.

 

Recommended for you