Cam Newton apologizes for letting fight 'escalate' at Atlanta youth football tournament

Former NFL quarterback Cam Newton said he’s disappointed in himself for losing control of his emotions over the weekend at a 7-on-7 youth football tournament in Atlanta, resulting in a brief fight involving several men from competing teams.

A 22-second video surfaced on Sunday showing the 34-year-old Newton involved in an altercation with at least three other men outside of a school at the tournament. Newton did not throw any punches, and appeared to try to fend off some attackers.

The incident was quickly broken up by a policeman and security.

"I’m disappointed in myself for letting it escalate to what it did and that’s what I’m apologetic to," Newton said Friday on his 4th and 1 podcast. "The truth of the matter is this: Me, being in my position, I should’ve never put myself in that position. That’s just the truth. That could’ve got ugly, for real."

The 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player and longtime Carolina Panthers signal caller also apologized to the kids who look up to him.

"I feel like I let them down," Newton said. "Because I can’t sit up here and say, ‘Hey bro, you have to be bigger than that,’ and then all of a sudden I do that. That just shows that you have to always stay in control of your emotions."

Newton, who is from Atlanta, heads up the C1N football organization, which was founded in 2021 and focuses on developing young athletes’ skills in football by providing opportunities to compete at the highest level through 7-on-7 tournaments and other events.

The former Heisman Trophy winner often attends the nationwide tournaments to support his players in various age divisions, and even hosts some events under the C1N brand.

Newton said over the weekend trash talk during a game between him and former members of his C1N organization carried over off the football field leading to the altercation.

"There was a lot of talking on both sides — on all sides, let’s just put it like that," Newton said. "I don’t want to point the finger and say this person said that or that person said that. Am I saying this is the first time it happened or the last time it happened? It’s something that starts with words and should’ve ended with words."

Newton said he’s glad the incident didn’t take a turn for the worse.

"There’s no excuse really," Newton said. "It could have been a melee. More violence could have stemmed from that. It’s just not called for."

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 30: Cam Newton attends 2022 Huncho Day Celebrity Football Game during Fan Controlled Football Season v2.0 - Week Three at Pullman Yards on April 30, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

Newton said he also regrets the incident because be believes it perpetuates a stereotype that he doesn’t like.

"It’s echoing something that has been permeating for years — Black people," Newton said. "Why do I got to be at a Black event, you know what I’m saying? And I could easily play the victim, and I’m not going to do that. I’m going to hold myself to that same standard."

Newton, who hasn’t played in the NFL since 2021, said on the podcast that he’s used to handling criticism.

He said sometimes that comes in the form of his failure to jump on a loose ball in the Panthers’ Super Bowl 50 loss to the Denver Broncos in 2016, losing his job to Mac Jones in New England or because of his perceived negative comments about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy.

"I’m used to playing in front of 100,000 people and millions watching, and I let one person dictate how I feel? No, I can’t do that. But I did that day," Newton said.

Newton said he hopes the incident serves as a teaching moment for young athletes and those who look up to him.

"This is what I really want the narrative to be," Newton said. "To every high school player, to every single person I’ve influenced and to every single athlete, use my situation as a way to understand that in one moment and one decision, your life can change just like that. I let my emotions get the best of me."