Sunday afternoon, Cam Newton started for the New England Patriots, marking his return from a season-ending foot injury that derailed his final season with the Carolina Panthers. The former first overall pick from the 2011 NFL Draft kicked off his campaign with a rushing touchdown and then paid homage to late actor Chadwick Boseman. Newton threw up the Wakanda Forever salute after scoring and giving the Patriots a 7-0 lead.
The celebration followed a scoreless first quarter in which Newton got his figurative sea legs back. He showed off the rushing plays from past seasons and found multiple players for decent gains. However, the scoring play showed that Newton is back to full health. He took the snap and then ran to the right on a designed quarterback run. He rushed untouched into the end zone, spiked the ball and then threw up the Wakanda Forever salute.
Following his first touchdown run as a Patriot, Cam Newton paid homage to the late, great Chadwick Boseman with the Wakanda Forever salute 👏 pic.twitter.com/Olbo2P7gj7— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 13, 2020
"Happy for Cam. Hope he tears it up this year. He’s a class act," one person commented on social media. Several others agreed with this sentiment after watching that first touchdown play. They expressed excitement about Newton's health and said that they appreciated his tribute to Boseman.
Newton joined several high-profile athletes in honoring Boseman following his death due to colon cancer. LeBron James gave the salute while kneeling prior to a playoff game in the NBA bubble. Similarly, Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton paid tribute to the Black Panther star following a victory in the Belgian Grand Prix.
Sunday's performance was not perfect for the former league MVP in Newton. He only reached 155 yards through the air and wasn't 100% on the same page as his receivers. However, the game still provided glimpses of what could be a successful season in New England. Newton rushed for two scores and nearly had one passing touchdown, but receiver N'Keal Harry fumbled near the goal line.
"Is it real what they say about [Bill] Belichick? Is it going to be too ... I didn't know," Newton previously said about joining the Patriots and working with his new head coach. "I think, honestly, it's been a match made in heaven for me, just knowing that I'm at a place where everything is pulling in the same direction and everything is geared toward winning." Some analysts and fans wondered if Newton and Belichick would clash given their very different personalities, but the victory over Miami eased many concerns.