Patriots QB Cam Newton wasn't surprised Bill Belichick benched him: 'I'm a realist'

Liz Roscher
·5-min read

Cam Newton was benched on Sunday as the New England Patriots got steamrolled 33-6 by the San Francisco 49ers. Head coach Bill Belichick, who suffered his worst-ever loss at Gillette Stadium, put back-up quarterback Jarrett Stidham in after Newton threw his third interception of the game.

Newton struggled mightily, and wasn’t shy about admitting it when he was interviewed on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” on Monday morning. He knew he was playing terribly, so he wasn’t surprised when Belichick benched him.

Newton accepted his benching

WEEI: Were you surprised when Bill took you out of that game?

Newton: No. I’m a realist.

Newton recognized that he wasn’t playing well and accepted the consequences of that. That’s why he said he wasn’t interested in putting up a fuss or making a big show of things when Belichick took him out.

“How bad would that have been? ‘No! I’m not coming out!’ That probably would have been embarrassing,” Newton said.

Being a realist and being able to recognize when he’s not cutting it is what helped him deal with the moment when Belichick told him that Stidham would be finishing out the game. It also helped him pull himself together and realize that the starting job might not be his much longer if he doesn’t start playing to the level he knows he can.

“He came and said that Stidham is finishing, and I agreed, and that’s what it was. For any type of competitor, do you feel embarrassed? Yeah. And I am as honest as I can possibly be right now.

“The first thing I said to myself coming home, I said ‘You keep playing games like that, bro, and it’s gonna be a permanent change.’ Whatever type of way we have to motivate ourselves, I’m honest with myself, so that leaves no type of miscommunication with others. When the change happened, I’m stuck on the sideline listening to plays like, ‘Is this really how you want to do things? And is this how you want things to be done? And until you take that step to get better — as you have been harping on these last couple weeks — then that’s what it’s going to be.'”

FOXBOROUGH, MA. - OCTOBER 25:  Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots walks the sidelines during the first quarter of the NFL game against the San Francisco 49ers at Gillette Stadium on October 25, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.   (Staff Photo By Matt Stone/ MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)
Cam Newton wasn't surprised that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick benched him on Sunday, because he knew he wasn't playing well. (Staff Photo By Matt Stone/ MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Leadership, not starting, is most important to Newton

Newton wouldn’t allow himself to make excuses or pass the blame on to anyone else, and that includes Belichick, who made the decision to take him out of the game. He knows he has Belichick’s support as the starter going forward, but that doesn’t matter as much to him as the support of the entire organization. And he knows that depends on him playing at a consistently high level.

“I don’t feel offended by what was done. I don’t feel offended by having this type of conversation. Like I said, I’m a realist, so even prior to us having this conversation I knew it was going to happen. I don’t fear my position’s stability more so than controlling the locker room, right? And performances like yesterday’s jeopardizes, like, oh my god ... you know, players talk. And that’s what’s most important to me. Because yeah, you have your coaches’ belief, but my belief is I want to have the whole facility. Upstairs, downstairs, from trainers to players to even coaches. It doesn’t start with a miraculous play. It’s a whole body of work that goes into performing on Sundays.”

Newton knows what’s on the line, and he’s committed to playing at a higher level and lifting the team along with him.

“I have to get better, and I’m adamant about it,” Newton said.

Now he just has to do it.

Newton won’t change the way he dresses

Newton also addressed criticism from former quarterback and current NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Jeff Garcia. On Sunday, Garcia unloaded on Newton for wearing his typical flashy dress after he was benched and the Patriots lost.

“You go into this game with two touchdowns, four interceptions, you threw what, three more interceptions? You get yanked in the second half, there’s nothing good going your way. Why are you dressing like that to bring more attention to yourself? I’d be trying to ask the equipment managers 'Put me in your jock sock cart and sneak me in the back door and I’ll show up on the field and do the best that I can.'"

Newton wore a checkered jacket, brown velvet vest, red scarf, and tan hat on Sunday, and it was actually pretty fresh and appropriate for the season. Garcia’s rant make it sound like Newton showed up for the game wearing a reflective neon suit, huge novelty glasses, and a giant Dr. Seuss hat.

This isn’t anything Newton hasn’t heard before. Many, many, many times, in fact. So he knew exactly how to respond to Garcia’s vaguely unhinged screed.

Newton was kinder to Garcia than Garcia was to him, admitting that Garcia’s opinion has some merit. But in the end Garcia’s opinion doesn’t matter, because Newton isn’t changing the way he dresses.

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