Newton was named the team’s starting quarterback, sources confirmed to ESPN, as well as one of their eight captains Thursday, marking a quick rise after he officially signed with the team July 8.
“A person might kind of sense it was almost expected, but not from me, though,” Newton said Friday. “Ever since I first spoke to any personnel with the team, I wanted to make sure they understood my drive and understand I’m not taking this opportunity for granted — whether it’s showing up as early as I do show up, or leave as late as I leave, I know people know that my heart is in the right place.
“As far as when it comes to this team, there is nothing I wouldn’t do besides put their best interest at heart. To be named a captain was just something that was just rewarding to hear, but at the same time, now the real work kind of starts for me.”
Newton, 31, was asked how he has evolved as a leader over the years, including his time with the Carolina Panthers (2011 to 2019).
“Just to be honest with you, I don’t think a person of my caliber always gets his fair share of leadership [acknowledgment]. I think coming to a team that has so much respect around the league and the sports world, to be a captain for them, I think it kind of gives me validation to a degree. But nothing that I’ve done this year has been any different that I’ve done from years past. I think that’s why this is not the first time I’ve been a captain,” he said.
“Whether it’s here, or whether it’s anywhere else, I think I’ve always grown and matured over the years and took a little bit what makes this person great and applied it to myself, and put my own kind of sizzle to it to make it mine. But I haven’t changed.”
As for being named the starter, which coach Bill Belichick reportedly informed players of Thursday, Newton relayed that he had a similar reaction to being voted a captain.
“That’s another emotion that’s hard to kind of explain in words,” he said. “But I’ve had a plan since I’ve been here just to become the best player I can possibly be, and be coachable. And knowing I’d be coached by the game’s finest — [offensive coordinator] Josh McDaniels, [quarterbacks] Coach Jedd [Fisch] as well as obviously Coach Belichick, and those guys haven’t let me down yet. I just try to be of service in any way, shape form I can possibly be. Anything they ask me to do, it’s my job to do it.”
One of the top questions about Newton when he first joined the Patriots was health-related, after he had undergone shoulder and foot surgeries over the past two seasons.
Specific to his health, and if he’s ready for the rigors of a 16-game season, Newton said it made little sense to declare one way or the other.
“Nothing that I say right now will make sense until you actually see it,” he said. “Whether I say, ‘I don’t think I am.’ It doesn’t matter if I say, ‘I’m ready.’ I think the headline will be what the headline will be. At the end of the day, I’m not going to make any type of promises. I’m just about showing improvement.”
Newton flashed a wide smile when asked what excited him most about what he could do in the Patriots’ offense.
“I think the most exciting thing is that nobody knows, and you’re still not going to know. So you just have to tune in and see,” he said, in reference to the season opener Sept. 13 against the visiting Miami Dolphins. “That’s what excites me most because everybody is kind of asking the same questions. ‘What are they going to do? Are they going to do this? Are they going to do that?’ I’m not going to tell you. You can’t let all the tricks out of the hat.”