Cam Newton’s release from the Belichickian Embassy provided clarity in one way, and perhaps only one. Bill’s moved on to his next human Cincinnati.
As for all the other motives, rationales, landing spots, and Newton’s place in the NFL universe, well, therein lies the beauty of a moment like this. You can make up whatever you want and—if you’re capable of yelling loud and long enough—it will become a reasonable theory and an alternative to the truth, which is this: Belichick believes Cam Newton can never be Cam Newton again, and Belichick is no longer willing to humor the notion that he can. That’s what releasing a guy means—you don’t want him any more.
All the other narratives are essentially wrong. If Newton’s résumé mattered in the festival of amorality that is the National Football League, this wouldn’t have happened. Whatever he used to be able to do is no longer valued, and his vaccination status, as much as we’d like it to matter, doesn’t. Belichick would absolutely sign a two-year deal with the actual virus if he thought it could win him a game. So would all the other owners, general managers, and coaches.
Thus, this move is instructive in only one way, and that is in a football fan’s ability to fill in blanks even when none exist. Everything is a conspiracy, there are always secret story lines that can only be divined by media speculator/dimwits, and everything has three contradictory meanings as though life were just a YouTube Sopranos post.
Besides, Tom Brady. If Belichick could miss catastrophically once, he could miss twice, right? Right?
Well, probably not. Newton might end up a Hall of Famer based on his meteoric rise, but because he has worked like he was indestructible, his destruction became increasingly likely, and at age 32 he has finally achieved full shadow-of-his-former-self status. Oh, people wanted to hold onto the notion of what he once was because that’s what they do—you know the argument: “Newton’s going to start somewhere. He’s Cam Newton.”
In fact, the smart money is that he is now the Artist Formerly Known As Cam Newton. That’s probably not the way to hope given that he did help change the position of quarterback and was for several years one of America’s most electrifying athletes. Memories, though, do not insure future anything, certainly not in a bloodless sport like football. Even if you don’t hold Belichick in envious and hate-soaked awe, he wouldn’t release someone for whom he could see future use.
But there is still value in Newton as a red herring for rumor peddlers, especially if, as seems likely, the Houston Texans are not going to release Deshaun Watson into the wild. He will offer lots of half-brained conversation fodder just by being what he used to be, even though it seems clear he is no longer remotely close to that. And if you want to argue that point, I remind you that he not only lost out in New England to the untested Mac Jones but to the relentlessly tested Brian Hoyer.
In sum, romance aside, we are left with the fact that what we have here is one more quarterback stomped into submission by the fate that awaits them all. Well, except Brady, maybe, but nobody ever thought Cam Newton on his best day was Tom Brady on an average one. Rooting for Newton is certainly a fine idea if that’s how you want to spend your autumn, but as has been said many times before, that’s not the way to bet. Sometimes Occam just knows best.