Cam Newton Has Been Absent From the NFL — What's Stopping Him From Playing?

Alex West - Author
By

Dec. 6 2023, Published 10:09 p.m. ET

Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots at a game against the Washington Football Team
Source: Getty Images

The Gist:

  • Cam Newton said that NFL teams aren't interested in him because of his hair.
  • He wasn't drafted to another team when his one-year contract with the Carolina Panthers ended.
  • There was talk about Cam rejoining the Panthers in 2022 as the backup quarterback, but that didn't end up happening.
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While football players bow out or retire from the sport every year, fans weren't expecting Cam Newton to disappear from the NFL. However, after his one-year contract with the Carolina Panthers ended, he wasn't drafted back onto another team.

There has been a lot of speculation about what has kept Cam away, but he claimed that staying away isn't his choice. He has pointed the blame at something else in the league.

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 Cam Newton attends Fearless Fund Third Annual Fearless Venture Capital Summit on Aug. 18, 2023
Source: Getty Images

What happened to Cam Newton?

According to Cam, it isn't his ability that holding him back — instead, it's his hair. In recent years, Cam has grown his hair out to be rather long and he claimed that teams aren't happy with that decision. He also implied they could just be using that as an excuse.

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"People have hinted towards to say like, 'Cam, we want you to go back to the 2015 clean-cut Cam. But that was a different me. Right now, where I'm at, it's about embracing who I am," he told Josina Anderson on her Undefined podcast.

 Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers warms up prior to an NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Source: Getty Images
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Also, Cam said that people implied his new look could be "scary," he told Bleacher Report. "And I would say, 'Yo, like I'm not going to name names, but there [are] other quarterbacks that [are] in the league that don't look like me, but they got [have] long hair. They don't scare them, do they?'" he explained.

"So, we can go tit for tat, tat for tit with it. But I would just turn and nod to that and say, 'That's not the reason why I'm not in the NFL,'" Cam admitted. So, the real reason for his absence seems to be ambiguous ... even with the chance that it could be his hair after all.

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Cam said that there were conversations surrounding him returning to the Panthers for 2022, but nothing came to fruition. He was reportedly asked to be backup for Sam Darnold, which Cam was OK with as long as he was given a chance to "prove himself."

 Cam Newton #1 and Sam Darnold #14 of the Carolina Panthers
Source: Getty Images
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"It was small talk," Cam told Dan Patrick, according to MCNC Charlotte. "It was the Panthers trying to get me back and they didn't know. At that specific time, Sam Darnold was there."

"Every situation I've been in, even with New England and going back to Carolina, I never had an offseason," Cam added. "That kind of capped my mental to understand the offense as a whole and the philosophical approach to why the offensive coordinator is calling certain kinds of plays."

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 Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers is introduced prior to the first half of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Source: Getty Images

Cam admitted that a variety of teams failed to reach out to him, including Washington. For those teams, he was willing to take a backseat on the roster, but he found that even his former mentors weren't reaching out to offer him any help.

Is Cam Newton still playing football?

While Cam isn't signed to a professional team as of this writing, he does still stay involved in football. He played in Auburn University's "Pro Day," his alma mater, in early 2023, according to the NFL. Otherwise, the once-mighty player isn't active in the sport.

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