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.