'Our first love': Cam Newton's father opens up on QB's split from Panthers, son's future

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Cam Newton's father, Cecil Newton Sr., was in town this weekend evaluating talent for High Impact football. ABC11 sat down with him to ask him about his son's journey the past year and his departure from the team that drafted him, the Carolina Panthers.

"I didn't necessarily say I could put my thumb directly on when that day was going to come to an end," Cecil Newton said about Cam's time in Carolina. "We always know coming into the league you're not going to be there forever. He was confronted facing a lot of injuries and a lot of things being said as if he could continue to perform at the level he was.

"Ultimately, as a parent, as a father, it caught me actually by surprise," Cecil Newton added. "I'm not disgruntled to that extent. It was not like you know we already knew this was going to be our last year. It's just the nature of the game. You have turnover in ownership and head coach and all of that so that just played into their decision."

Cecil Newton said there were trying times during those few months when Cam wasn't signed to a team. He said those details will come out in a documentary.

Cam Newton led the Panthers to the playoffs four times, including a Super Bowl appearance, but under a new regime, it was only a matter of time before his exit from the franchise.

Mike McCarn



"He pushed through it," he said. "Cam is built out of a lot of durable raw material and through prayer, faith and commitment to posting a lot of Instagram stuff, it worked out. It did work out and I'm thankful for his landing spot thus far."

In addition to faith, Cam Newton's motivation and work ethic pushed him through, his father noted.

"He's driven," Cecil Newton said. "Five-thirty in the morning, midday, afternoon and late in the evening, he's an animal when it comes to his commitment to greatness. It's just not something you turn on the TV and see. He's a committed person to the game."



The Panthers released Cam Newton in March after nine years with the franchise. Newton went 68-55-1 in his career with Carolina, leading the Panthers to the playoffs four times. Newton also helped the Panthers reach the Super Bowl in 2015, which they lost to the Denver Broncos.

"We literally wept about the ending of it, but it's another phase of life," Cecil Newton said. "Marriages break up, loved ones expire. You have to accept sometimes what the moment presents to you, but we've moved on from that and I don't really want to beat that dead horse in regret. Charlotte is his and our family's first love. That first love is always going to have a special place in your heart."

A NEW START IN THE NORTHEAST



In early June, the New England Patriots signed Cam Newton to a one-year deal worth up to $7.5 million.

"I called him," Cecil Newton said. "I normally deal with the agents. I'm the kind of buffer filter. The call comes through me and I contact him. That was a slight period of unsettledness as to what was going to eventually happen here. I applaud all the fans who purchased a billboard, posted Instagram this and that. I think really, really there's a magnitude of fans who are still here for Cam, but we've just moved progressively on in his career direction. We've been excited about it. It worked out. Bill Belichick and the Patriots are the creme de la creme. Nothing else needs to be said.

"It does carry a specific air to it," he added. "I'm sure he ... I wasn't, and I spoke this to Mr. (Robert) Kraft (Patriots owner), I haven't talked to Bill personally. I respected the Patriots, but I was never a fan. Now, I'm their No. 1 fan."

RELATED: Newton's father says Patriots QB is 'roaring to go to play' after COVID-19 diagnosis

Cam Newton replaced six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, who signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March. Though big footsteps to follow in, Newton is himself a former NFL Most Valuable Player.

"I think he's called for that kind of moment," Cecil Newton said. "I don't think way down the list of Cam evolving, I tried to teach him to not allow that moment to be so overwhelming. That comes from a mental preparation standpoint. I don't think he was totally intimidated by it. This is a good opportunity for him. It's a game-by-game, however. You can be up today and down tomorrow. We just have to be patient and committed and let the rest of it take care of itself."

When Cam Newton got to New England, he had to earn the starting role over the Patriots' two other quarterbacks, Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham.

Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini



When Cam Newton got to New England, he had to earn the starting role over the Patriots' two other quarterbacks, Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham.

"I just know how committed and how eager he was to really exemplify who he is, and things started to evolve," Cecil said. "He would text me periodically. I'm Cam's manager. I want to go on record to say that. I don't have to come to the games. I've never gone in the locker rooms. I understand the game from a broad perspective, not just a jersey, not just down there kicking it with the rest of the players. I'm his manager. Is his car insurance paid up, is his bills being taken care of, are the kids well-cared for? That's the kind of stuff I do. All of the other fanfare and all of that I leave that to him."

Cecil Newton said he's most proud of Cam's commitment and dedication during the past year.

"The commitment when pundits were saying he's done, and (they) wouldn't take a chance on him," he said. "That's what encourages me the most. In spite of it all, he had the willingness to compete and get in there early, stay in there late, grind, do whatever the job calls for. Lead by example and let the chips fall where they may. I think Cam's whole career has been about perseverance. He's never been given a whole lot, and I don't coddle him ... life is not going to coddle you. They don't owe you anything. They might recruit you and say you're going to be our guy, but you have to take a lot of that with a grain of salt. If you're not prepared through this endurance period of, nobody respects me, nobody believes I can, you've got to have, it's got to come from in here."

CAM AND BILL: CUTTING EDGE VS. CUTOFFS



It's not lost on Cecil Newton that his son and his new coach, Bill Belichick, are polar opposites: Cam Newton is super outgoing, Belichick is reserved; Newton enjoys cutting-edge fashion whereas Belichick is all about cut-off sweatshirts.

"The agent in myself had a jovial conversation with him about what his press conference should look like, his first press conference," Cecil Newton said. "I said man, ideally you would win a lot of the Patriot fan base over by coming in there with a cutoff sweat T-shirt like Bill Belichick and he didn't really buy that, but you know we don't keep it that serious. I think they've embraced the fact that when he came in, they said you be you and so that's what is unique about it."



Cecil Newton said Cam gets a lot of fashion from him but the yellow suit he wore Week 1 was all Cam.

"I don't wear yellow though," Cecil Newton said. "I can't find myself to wear yellow."

Cam Newton's love for fashion can be traced to his middle school days when his parents thought making him wear a suit on Fridays would embarrass him and serve as punishment for him misbehaving.

The opposite happened.

"She (Cecil's wife) takes the credit for it," he said. "I'm going to give her the credit for it, but actually, let's say this: We collectively decided for him, we said 'you want to be seen and you want a lot of attention, so you're going to dress up,' and it grew on him like weeds in a vegetable garden.

Cam Newton shows off his style at The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala on May 7, 2018, in New York.

Charles Sykes/Invision



"He was passionate about it," Cecil Newton recalled. "You would see him on Wednesdays and Thursdays ironing his shirt and slacks. That didn't go over as planned, but it's turned out good. Cam has always been fashion-centric to the extent that shoes, clothes, hair. I can't keep up with him. He's way out there. He's left me way back."

'

CAM IS A HAPPY-GO-LUCKY GUY'



Cecil Newton said all of his three sons are unique and Cam's success as an NFL quarterback doesn't buy points when it comes to family.

"I never want to get to any of my other two sons feeling I longingly favor Cam over them," Cecil Newton said. "As he being my son, I trust in Cam in his success, but if Cam was an Uber driver, if he was a warehouse worker or a blue-collar worker of any sort, I would love him equally. I can't not love him any greater then than I do now. It's not just about the fanfare because I'm not enchanted with that. Cam is a happy-go-lucky guy. He's more and more private. As his stardom grows, he becomes more and more private and intricate to the extent we will do a family dinner on Sundays after church. He spends a lot of time with his kids and he's matured in a lot of ways.

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton celebrates after a win against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sept. 27

Charles Krupa



"He's ultimately sensitive and compassionate and thoughtful," Cecil Newton added. "People who don't think that Cam is compassionate and thoughtful, find out. He would come up with a gift for a person who never thought that they meant enough to him for their birthday. I wasn't like that, quite frankly. He just captures the hearts of the common person just as well as he would the elite status entertainer-athlete person."

Cecil Newton expressed no doubts his son would find success in New England (The Patriots have won two of three games where Cam Newton played) but acknowledged it may not be instant, especially in such an uncertain national climate.

"We are going to take a TO on that," he said. "We've got eight-10 opt-out veterans, it's a pandemic. It's going to take a moment, but he's built for the, you know, Cam is a mule. He's not just a racehorse. He's that joker that's going to just grind. His stats sometimes are not pretty but he's built to accept the mere challenge that whatever I need to do for this team to win that's what I'm going to do. Style points, no disrespect to Patrick Mahomes, Russell (Wilson), Deshaun (Watson) , I think Ben (Roethlisberger) and Cam are kind of similar. Aaron (Rodgers) is kind of style-point-centric some of those. Cam, dirty, diving, scrambling, blocking whatever."

When asked whether Cam Newton could lead the Patriots back to a Super Bowl, Cecil Newton's answer was very direct:

"Are you kidding me? It's Cam."
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