Among the many unexpected twists and turns that came in 2020, Cam Newton on the Patriots ranked near the top of the list for many NFL fans.
The collaboration, while questionable at first glance, brought a ton of intrigue coming into the most unusual of seasons. Fast forward a few months later and New England enters Week 17 as one of several teams without a seat at the postseason table.
It may not have been the season Newton, Bill Belichick or the rest of the organization envisioned, but that didn't stop the former MVP from candidly sharing on Thursday what he learned personally and professionally, as well as how he plans on bringing in 2021.
"I'm going to flush the system tonight. I'm having a manifesting party," Newton told reporters, per Masslive.com. "So, you kind of call your close friends, loved ones, and it's like Skype and you got to set your intentions on what you're expecting. Sage yourself. Sage your environment. Crystals if needed. And just have this euphoric kind of conversation go on with you and loved ones, and people you know best.
"It kind of puts people in that position to be your accountability partner, too, as the new year approaches. So, it can be a new year's resolution, it can be what your expectations are, it kind of makes you go from that to having a vision board. Yeah, so that's my plans for tonight and I'm looking forward to it."
From being released in March by the Panthers to being unemployed nearly four months before being signed, Newton faced an uphill battle coming into the season. Add on the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and questions surrounding his fit, health and ability to replace Tom Brady and the 31-year-old's plate was full way before Week 1.
Despite all of those challenges and the ones that eventually came with the lack of success on the field, as well as his own bout with COVID-19, Newton said the hardest part of the year was being away from family.
"Being unemployed for 86 nights, yeah that's tough. Having injuries, yeah that's tough. Going through this season and you can kind of assume what a juggernaut media market that Boston is or Foxborough, New England, whatever you want to call, is. The slander that comes with living up to the TB12 expectations. Yeah, all of that is tough. You hear it. None of it is even a close second to not being able to see your children," Newton said. "You miss your kids' first steps. You're not there during Christmas. You're not there on birthdays. And then on top of that, you're sucking? Ah, man. And coming from a person who's already emotional? And I don't even want to talk to people on a regular day, let alone when everything is going good. But I've learned that, through it all, you only got your faith in God, your faith in yourself. And that's pretty much it. I've really relied on [the] understanding of trying to find something to build off of.
"For me, I'm being optimistic through it all and I've learned to be optimistic especially through these trials and tribulations because at times during this year, it was like, 'God. What is it? What are you doing? What are you trying to tell me? Like, what am I not doing?' And yeah, having to wake up at certain amount of times and leaving the facilities at certain amount of times and still not having the success that you want to have, it teaches you resiliency. It teaches you patience. It teaches you to have faith and understanding that, listen, sooner or later, you're going to get a break. I'm not looking for no handouts. It's just more or less for me to just say, 'Bruh, damn. Finally.' Right?
"And 2020, man I'm about to sign, seal. I'm about to tie this year up, put a big knot on it. I can buy every single lock, key and throw away all of them. I don't want to see no part of 2020, but it made me a better person. That, I do believe. And that's something, being a part of this franchise is something that you just don't wash away that stench, that aura of being a Patriot. It's something that's in you."
In a most trying year, Newton revealed he still managed to obtain a better understanding of the game. Considering who he was learning under, that's not hard to believe.
The 2020 campaign may go down as one of Newton's worst statistically but, in terms of the knowledge he gained over these past few months, Newton said the experience has been well worth it. He plans to apply all that he's learned to his next steps, regardless of whether or not he returns to Foxborough next season.
"To be asked to do as much as I was asked to do was never placed on my shoulders ever as much as it was this year. And I appreciate it. It made me a more cerebral football player, so to speak," Newton said. "... We all learn differently. And, yeah, it took 20 plus years to come up with it. And they have their own reason. And also for them to try to incorporate some of the things that I'm comfortable with was another wrench in the toolbox, too. So, through it all, I ain't gonna complain. I won't complain, I'm just going to make the most of this whole opportunity, I'm going to have fun - been having fun - and just love on the guys, you know, while I can. And man, I just appreciate it.
"I can definitely knock this off my bucket list to a degree, man. But at the same time I'm yearning for more, you know? Any competitor - I think, you know, Bill said, 'Any competitor who is a competitor will show up on Sunday,' and that's what I expect to do. But yet, through it all, you know, this year has taught me so much about myself.
"It was almost like, you know, going up under the hood for me. Working on my attitude, working on my patience, working on my faith, working on, you know, the resilient side of you, you know, what are you going to do when things aren't, you know, so good? When are we going to tackle your family, tackle your health, tackle your success? Can you still do it? Can you throw? Can you run? Right? And how are you going to respond to it? So through it all, man, it's always a challenge. I'm always a person that's trying to get better and I will continually have that same mentality. And I look forward to it."