Scott Zolak apologizes for comments about Cam Newton

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Former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, a long-time member of the team’s radio broadcast team, created a stir last week with comments about current Patriots quarterback Cam Newton. Zolak addressed the remarks during the pregame show in advance of the team’s preseason finale.

On Thursday, Zolak said that Newton seems distracted by rap music being played at practice.

“That’s something I know that’s drawn attention for being racially insensitive,” Zolak said, via Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald. “I’m sorry for that comment, I didn’t need to make that comment. I should not even ever bring any sort of music into play, because I have no clue what’s going on in a player’s head. It’s been a rough last couple days here, and I wanted to do this on air. It’s the first time I’ve been on air since Thursday.”

Zolak said that he spoke to Newton about the situation.

“I wanted to talk to him before I talked about this, to let him know,” Zolak said. “I got a chance to talk to him, and Cam’s nothing but class. Great guy. He handled it perfect. I mean, that’s between me and him.”

Via Callahan, here’s what Zolak said during his midday show on 98.5 The Sports Hub: “I’d turn off the rap music, first of all, because I think it’s distracting for Cam here. Because in between every throw, he’s dancing. He can’t help himself, to where Mac [Jones] looks like he came to work again. Like, he’s here to work. And everything’s attention to detail. It’s nothing different.”

Here’s the thing. Music plays at practice in part to create a distraction. Playing football inherently entails dealing with distractions, because one player is always trying to do one thing while another player is trying to stop him from doing it. Whether a player does or doesn’t dance or otherwise react to the music between reps doesn’t matter. The music is there to simulate the fact that football isn’t played on a golf course. There is noise. There are people. There are things always happening in the background.

That’s neither a defense nor an indictment of Zolak. It’s simply a fact, one that he obviously ignored or overlooked in assessing the impact of the noise at practice. If Zolak had thought of it that way, he never would have strayed toward saying something that resulted in a reaction that was warranted by the remarks.

20 responses to “Scott Zolak apologizes for comments about Cam Newton

  1. Apologize for what? He made an observation: Cam is dancing while Jones is business-like. Cam’s obviously not distracted during the time he’s dancing so the whole idea that the music is on to create a distraction makes no sense as it relates to this observation.

    People are scared of everything today.

  2. Here’s the thing, part II: the comment may have been off base, but we can see that the idea was about focus/attention, not race. All too often today (in the rightful search for racial discrimination), racial insensitivity is labeled where it isn’t warranted and then overreaction ensues. We need to keep our eye on the ball, being careful to not put labels where they don’t belong in part to avoid fresh injustice and in part to save our own attention for use when true discrimination is identified.

  3. If the purpose of playing music is to create a distraction, then the hope from that would hopefully be to have the players learn to “tune out” the distraction, not react to it. If players are reacting to it, they are not fully concentrating on playing football which is what they are there for.

  4. The problem is that he said “rap music”, not just “music”. That one word is the cause of the stir here, that made it “racially insensitive”. If Zolak had just said that Newton is distracted by the music, and is dancing around instead of concentrating on getting better, no problem. So silly how everyone is just looking for something, anything to complain about.

  5. “ Whether a player does or doesn’t dance or otherwise react to the music between reps doesn’t matter.”

    Of course it matters. If he is dancing between reps, then he is not focused on analyzing the rep he just took, or the rep he is about to take. If you do not have the proper focus during practice, it will show up in the game, like it did many times last season.

    They shouldn’t play music. They should play crowd noise if they’re trying to simulate game situations.

  6. I saw this the other day and thought it was a joke. Honestly, he should be fired for that nonsense. Like where did that come from?

  7. The fact is if a former player who is accustomed to the “Patriot way” see’s a player dancing to the music while another is seemingly more focused what’s wrong with saying so? Point is if Jones was cutting a rug to the music and Newton was seemingly more focused there would not be a problem with Zolak’s comments. There is no problem! The fact that everyone is looking under rocks to find something offensive THAT IS THE PROBLEM!

  8. I don’t think its accurate to assume the music is there to simulate noise because some guys are wearing headphones listening to their own.

    Zolak specifically mentioned rap so yeah, not a good look. His issue is the dancing, he doesn’t think Cam is engaged. What he forget is that this is the office space of an NFL player. He should have just said there is a time and place for everything and left it there.

  9. I think the guy has a great point. Cam isn’t focused, as he doesn’t need anything to take away the focus on his job. If he can’t focus on being a better QB, why give him a distraction? I reject your apology and credit you for bringing out that Cam is a guy who can’t just come to work and give it his all.

  10. if the best coach ever thought playing music wasn’t the so called patriot way (really the belichick way) and that it somehow caused lesser performance from his players, does anyone think there would be music?

    and what does a former hack qb with 7 starts and 8 career td passes in 8 yrs know about anything? he never played in the patriot way era… just the patriots suck era

  11. All 32 teams play music at practice. Baker Mayfield is literally known to have specific dances for specific songs played at there’s to the point there are youtube videos of them.

    There are 0 NFL starting QB’s that are distracted by music. Regardless of whether the comment was racially insensitive or not it was just dumb. He can play with 80,000 people screaming at him but play some Nelly and that’s the issue? Seriously! Maybe that was a problem for Scott which explains why Cam is a first overall pick competing for starting spots and Scott was a fourth round backup who gets paid to talk about people better than him and I’m not even a Newton or Patriots fan.

  12. “Whether a player does or doesn’t dance or otherwise react to the music between reps doesn’t matter.”

    Doesn’t it? It seems like it matters quite a bit. If you’re dancing to music, you’re being distracted, and if the point of having noise is to avoid distraction, then it would seem this QB is failing in that regard.

    Though I’m not even so sure the music is about distraction. I suspect it’s there to pander to immature players who can’t focus on doing their very lucrative jobs without being coddled. The music probably helps keep them from being “bored”. Bored by easy money.

  13. “The fact is if a former player who is accustomed to the “Patriot way” see’s a player dancing to the music while another is seemingly more focused what’s wrong with saying so?”

    Nothing wrong with saying so. But it’s also funny how the guy who invented the Patriot Way has no issues with Cam yet there’s all kinds of people on the peripherary who seem convinced he’s doing all sorts of things wrong. If BB had issues with Cam he’d have been gone a long ago so is BB a genius whose judgment is trusted or is he somehow blind to all these problems Cam is supposedly causing?

  14. Does it matter? We know what Cam is as a player. Jones we don’t.

    Is Cam distracted or having fun? Is Jones focused or so overwhelmed he doesn’t hear the music or is he so stiff he doesn’t react to it?

    If you win, no one cares.

  15. If music truly was there to create a distraction, like an opposing player trying to prevent you from succeeding, it would not be music the players enjoy. They would be playing music and sounds everyone hates, maybe fingernails scratching on a blackboard. It’s not there for distraction; it’s there because players want it.

  16. realfootballfan says:
    August 30, 2021 at 10:27 am
    I saw this the other day and thought it was a joke. Honestly, he should be fired for that nonsense. Like where did that come from?

    Absolutely RIDICULOUS if you think Zo should be fired for this remark.

  17. The fact that some of you can’t see that this WAS racially insensitive and inappropriate is part of the problem. He said they should turn off the rap music, the black QB was dancing, and the white QB was “ready to work”. Also – many of you just go right to the same assumptions about Cam and Mac in your responses.

    None of you know anything at all about what’s going on in either QB’s head. None of you can factually say that Cam – who is known to work extremely hard – doesn’t take the game seriously. That’s just an assumption based on your own experiences, and none of us has any idea what it’s like to be an NFL QB.

    It was said that Cam was dancing between reps, not dancing instead of practicing. Try to be honest with yourselves about the assumptions you make or the conclusions you draw based on race, because they’re there but you won’t admit it.

    And no, I don’t think Zolak should be fired.

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