Laird: The Cam Newton quote(s) that said it all

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Here’s something refreshing: the Patriots now have a starting QB who is wearing No. 1, and putting them No. 1, too.

If you heard Cam Newton’s weekly appearance on The Greg Hill Show this Monday, you heard an interviewee who repeatedly hit balls out of the park. He was thoughtful, interesting, humble, honest, and on-point.

And most importantly for his new teammates and fan base, he was a leader. He was a unifyer.

No answer better exemplified these traits than his response to a question about whether the team needed help at wide receiver.

Highlighting the Cam quote slam was this moonshot: “Man, I’ll say this, the answers are in that locker room. Simple and plain. We got Little Bud, Doughboy, Highway 11, and MyGerms. We good to go. Let me rewind that. We have Damiere Byrd, N’Keal Harry, Julian Edelman and Jakobi Meyers.”

Now contrast that to what Tom Brady said to Howard Stern in April about how he treated struggling receivers: “I would say, ‘I don’t have any trust that this guy can help us win the game.’ I’ve definitely expressed my opinion to say, ‘If you put him out there, I’m going not to throw him the ball.’”

That’s the worst response I’ve ever heard Brady give in his 20-year career. A rock bottom response and the definition of divisive, which was something Brady claimed he never wanted to be.

But actions spoke louder than those claims in 2019, whether it was Brady skipping OTAs (where rookies Harry and Meyers might have used some mentoring) or the loss to the Houston Texans where Brady was verbally lighting up his wideouts on the sideline (“Be faster! Quicker! More explosive!”), or outright mouthing to Josh McDaniels that he was “done” with guys who had made mistakes.

Even in Brady’s first Tampa Bay’s victory this week over Carolina, TB12 was seen scolding running back Ronald Jones after a fumbled exchange. I half thought Ellen might include Brady’s toxic work environment during her apology this week.

Brady’s world has felt like it’s in turmoil for a few years now, and you can’t just blame Bill Belichick anymore.

New Tampa coach Bruce Arians already appears to be walking on eggshells around Brady, last week backpedalling on criticism of a Tom turnover quicker than the CDC changes Covid guidance.

Brady’s package deal Rob Gronkowski isn’t catching passes and it’s become a source of added Tompa Bay drama.

And the TB12 the Corporation that made the Patriots feel like Priority No. 12 continues to churn up Brady’s time and social media efforts.

Meanwhile, back in Foxboro, everything has changed. Newton is quickly revitalizing the region and restoring any lost faith after the Goat left for greener pastures.

It may seem like a small thing, but crushing a Monday interview with team-first sentiments can make a difference in workplace morale. The nebulous reports of a different vibe around the team from the past few months are totally understandable when you hear Newton speak.

Newton’s perfect responses Monday to his contract queries included, “Money at this particular point in my career is not important” and “It’s not about money, it’s about respect.”

To contrast again, Brady’s pre-2019 rebuttal to a contract question was, “Talk to Mr. Kraft.”

Last year, Brady was miserable after an 8-0 start. Newton’s personality is constantly upbeat and infectious, and even after a heartbreaking loss in Seattle it feels like a victory parade is scheduled for City Hall Plaza.

The change is significant and stunning to behold, slamming shut the old Brady era with the authority of a David Andrews end zone spike shared by Newton after a rushing touchdown.

In just two game weeks, Newton appears to have rebuilt the circle of trust inside his franchise while he continues to build a bridge to the hearts of New Englanders. ‘Superman’ is following the script from his movie and turning from outcast to adored, while the people of Metropolis are no longer afraid of that which they didn’t understand.