Cam Newton officially signed with the New England Patriots on July 8, but the longtime Carolina Panthers quarterback is still finding it hard to believe that he's the top candidate to fill the void created by Tom Brady's free-agency departure.
"I'm still ... I don't want to say in disbelief at this particular point in time, but it's a surreal moment," Newton said Friday in his first official media availability with the Patriots.
"Nobody really knows how excited I am, just to be a part of this organization, in many ways [more] than one. Following up such a powerful dynasty, that is enriched in so much prestige, a lineage of success. A lot of people would hide from the notion to do certain things. But for me, I think this opportunity is something that I wake up pinching myself each and every day. It's so surreal."
Newton said he feels support around Boston and in the suburb of Foxborough, where the team's stadium is located. Like his time in Carolina, where he spent nine seasons, he'll wear No. 1 for the Patriots.
"It's crazy, I just found myself putting on shirts and said, 'Oh my God!' I don't know when that moment [will come], but someday it will click that this is the norm," Newton said.
When the Patriots first expressed interest in the 31-year-old Newton, he said that one of his first thoughts was how he would mesh with coach Bill Belichick.
So far, so good.
"I'll just say there is a perception, but at the end of the day, it's still football," Newton said. "I've loved it ever since I've been here. I've been here going on a week now. You hear rumors about certain things, but once you finally get settled in on things like that, none of that really matters. It's just all about finding your way to prove your worth on a team. ...
"One thing that Coach Belichick does do a great job [with] is setting the tone early. You're going to know certain things and how it's done -- sooner rather than later."
Belichick isn't naming Newton his starting quarterback, which is standard operating procedure for the coach. Belichick instead said it's up to the players to determine who wins the job, with 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer as the top challengers.
Newton, after dealing with foot and shoulder injuries for the past two seasons, said, "at this point, I'm full go."
As for the idea that he has something to prove, Newton doesn't see it that way.
"I don't have to prove nothing, especially not to nobody. I have to prove to myself. That's a daily challenge," he said. "I don't think nobody's expectations will ever surpass my expectations for myself.
"I'm just looking forward to the challenge. ... My job is to come here, compete, put this team in the best situation to win. Do my part. Be as accessible to the team, and Coach Belichick, as well as Coach [Josh] McDaniels, as possible. And to just get better each and every day."
Newton also was asked whether there is additional motivation to prove his former team, the Panthers, wrong.
"At the end of the day, for me, I'm not going to dwell on the past," Newton said. "I think I'm a person that's a self-motivator. Even though the past is the past, I'm not going to keep looking back. For me, it's turn the page and move forward. I wish those guys nothing but the best, and I hope the feeling is mutual. Moving on."
Newton, who said his mentality is to "wake up mad," also addressed the challenge of trying to replace Brady.
"It's a breath of fresh air, to be honest with you. A challenge I have to accept each and every day," he said. "But no challenge is ever going to be greater than the personal challenge that I challenge myself personally. We all know what that was, and what that is, and it needs no mention. But at the same time, for me, I think I have my hands full trying to learn as much as possible in a short period of time."