Cam Newton is still confident that he's a starting NFL quarterback, despite a disappointing 2020 campaign and a recent viral video in which a high school football player heckled him during a recent camp.
Newton struggled during his lone season with the New England Patriots, which saw him throw for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions, while going 7-8 as a starter in 15 games.
But the former NFL MVP believes he still has more to prove and hopes he gets another chance after signing a one-year deal with New England last offseason.
“Hell no! I can’t go out like that. I hear all of that talk,” Newton said during the 'I Am Athlete' podcast in response to retirement questions. “My pride won’t allow me to do it. There aren’t 32 guys better than me.”
On Sunday, a video of Jseth Owens roasting Newton at the NFA 7v7 East Regional in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina went viral on social media. The teenager is seen yelling to Newton, "You a free agent! You a free agent! You're about to be poor!"
Newton replied to the heckling by saying, "I'm rich," and asked the teen where his dad was, adding, "I'm not talking to a little boy."
Owens provided a lengthy apology to Newton on Sunday in a statement shared on his Twitter account.
"As a football player I let my competitive side get the best of me & it was a huge miscommunication," Owens wrote. "It was in the midst of the moment & I realize now how a lot of you took it as disrespect. I never meant to humiliate & let anyone down."
Newton also provided more details about the interaction on his Instagram account, which included a video of himself interacting with the camp participants.
“What you didn’t see,” Newton wrote (some punctuation has been cleaned up for clarity via Boston.com.) “I see there are a lot of things festering out there that I see took place over the weekend. To the natural eye, you see me asking the young man, ‘Where is your dad at?’ But to me, talking to a child with everyone looking does me no good! So instead of speaking or going back and forth with a child, I wanted to have a man-to-man conversation with his father.”
Several of Newton's Patriots teammates and other professional athletes came to the quarterback's defense after the video went viral, which included quote-tweets the initial tweet shared by ESPN's 'SportsCenter' account touting the former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick's accolades.
As for his play, Newton told the 'I Am Athlete' podcast his COVID-19 diagnosis and the ensuing missed playing time played a role in his struggles during the 2020 season.
“When I came back [after missing the game in Kansas City], that’s where the lack of an offseason and the lack of time in the system really showed itself. I was behind and I was thinking too much,” Newton said. “The offense kept going and I was stagnant for two weeks. It was all new terminology. I wasn’t just trying to learn a system for what it was, I was learning a 20-year system in two months.”
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