In case you haven’t noticed, new Patriots quarterback Cam Newton likes him some attention.
And in the modern, digital, socially-distanced world we live in, the only really valuable away to garner attention is on social media.
If it’s not on Instagram, it didn’t happen.
If it doesn’t lead to lots of “likes” you might want to reassess your lot in life.
Since almost the moment his signing with New England was reported – and certainly since it became official – Newton has made sure that his every move and motivation was spread for all the world to see on social media.
Workouts – alone or with new teammates – are content.
What might have been inner monologues in the past are now the makings of fan-fueling hype videos.
For some, who seemingly like to use the term but don’t really understand it, Newton’s online activities may seem to fly in the face of the so-called Patriot Way.
Certainly a quarterback playing for buttoned-up, sleeves-cut Bill Belichick couldn’t possibly be so invested in what the coach loves to not-so-humorously refer to as “Instachat” or “Snapface”.
The only problem is that such a theory is as wrong as it is dated.
No Patriots player created more social media stir over the last couple years than now-former quarterback Tom Brady. (Although Antonio Brown clearly tried to give Brady a run for his money in less than two weeks in town.)
In recent times Brady the player and TB12 brand broke free from the supposed limitations of the Patriot Way to build a massive following on both Instagram and Twitter. Brady and his team used the apps to connect with fans, pitch plenty of products and even seemingly tweak the masses during his year-long divorce from Belichick, Robert Kraft and all of Patriot Nation.
Regardless of what that infamous Super Bowl-week photo actually showed, we now know Brady was indeed walking off the Gillette Stadium field, out the tunnel and exiting New England forever.
The GOAT enjoyed every social media moment like a middle school girl mindlessly meandering through her Snapchat streaks.
So, make no mistake that as much as Newton is clearly a modern quarterback bringing all the modern social media trappings to his reborn career in Foxborough, he’s really no different in that sense than the guy he’s replacing.
Newton is simply taking the Instagram and Twitter torch from Brady as the Patriots social-media obsessed QB of the moment.
The only question is whether anyone has a problem with that.
There are really three categories people will fall into when it comes to the reaction to Newton’s online work that actually often displays his real-world work ethic.
First, there is the older-school (no, they didn’t watch Gino Cappelletti’s games at Fenway Park!) if a bit archaic Patriot observer who breaks out in hives with every Instagram posting. The one whose philosophies and fandom remain entrenched in the early days of the Patriots dynasty. This is the person embodied by Tedy Bruschi’s famous and now very much dated rant that wide receiver Chad Ochocinco needed to put down his phone and get in his playbook.
This is also a group that should include those who grew tired of Brady’s evolving online presence and TB12 brand-building ways in recent years. My hand, for one, is raised.
The second group is a more hip, modern football fan and media type. One that has either grown up in the social media era or open-mindedly changed with the times. This fan understood and even liked when Brady tweeted photos of himself in an empty stadium before a game, spurring career-contemplating debates. This group is made of those who anxiously await and consume Newton’s every move and froth a bit more at the mouth each time for the start of the football season. They know this is no longer your father’s Patriot Way.
Then there is the third group, one we’ll somewhat disparagingly refer to as the Laundry Legion. This is the group whose opinions are defined by what jersey a player puts on. Brady could do no wrong – online or not – back when he donned the Flying Elvis each week. Now, though, the GOAT has lost his way, and his Tompa Bay antics are nauseating. Good riddance!
And Newton, this group probably always thought he was a me-first diva who sought the camera when things were going well and sulked when they weren’t. Except now he’s put on the right color jersey and is the next big thing, the modern example of what a savvy athlete should be.
Which group are you in?
Lots of things have changed in New England this offseason.
But the fact that the Patriots have a social media-obsessed quarterback isn’t one of them.
It’s been that way for Belichick’s team for quite some time now.