IRVING, Texas - Terence Newman spent nine years with the Dallas Cowboys, but by the end of last season, he all but knew that a break-up was on the horizon.
“I pretty much figured it was coming,” Newman said. “I worked out every day. That way they could have the chance to grab me face to face rather than a phone call or whatever.”
Back in 2003, Dallas selected Newman with the fifth overall pick in the draft. High expectations were placed on the young player and he started at cornerback in his rookie year.
For most of the next nine seasons Newman was the primary cornerback for the Cowboys, covering some of the league’s most dangerous receivers.
It would be unfair to say that he was anything less than a productive player for the Cowboys as he made two Pro Bowls (2007, 2009) in his time in Dallas and recorded 32 interceptions. To put that into context, Champ Baily, thought by many to be one of the league’s best cornerbacks of all time, recorded 34 interceptions in that same time span.
So why then did Newman correctly predict that he was going to be released at the end of last season?
Dealing with a number of injuries over the past two seasons, Newman’s production had declined. And while he deserves credit as a ball-hawk and playmaker, some feel that he was often exposed when covering quick receivers one-on-one.
After years of high expectations, the public perception on Newman was that he was “good, but not great.” The final straw came in the last game of the 2011 campaign. With Newman already wearing on the patience of many fans, Giants’ receiver Victor Cruz was able to burn him for a 74-yard touchdown in a game that sent New York to the playoffs and the Cowboys to an 8-8 record.
On Wednesday Newman, now a member of the Bengals’ defense, talked about his play last season and admitted that he did not produce the type of results that he expects from himself.
“I played good in spurts last year,” Newman said. “I’d probably say I’m more consistent this year. I started out playing well last year then down the stretch I dealt with a couple of nagging things and just didn’t play as well as I did early in the season.“
The result was that Newman became one of the most obvious and simple scapegoats. After nine years as a Cowboy, his departure was not exactly a send off of appreciation.
But if he was ever upset about the way he was perceived in Dallas, he claims that’s all in the past now.
“A person can be bitter all they want to, but it’s not going to change anything,” Newman said. “I’m happy, playing pretty well and winning football games. There’s no reason for me to be bitter. It’s months and months after the fact.”
Newman did admit that he was bothered by the fact that Jerry Jones did not personally talk to him the day the Cowboys chose to release him.
“I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to see Jerry on my way out, but it is what it is.”
Newman was not on the market for long, though. Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer held the same position for Dallas during the first few years of Newman’s career and had been keeping tabs on the Cowboys’ decision to part ways with Newman.
“(Zimmer) contacted me I think it was the day that I got released and said they wanted to bring me in for a visit,” Newman said. “This instantly was a place that I wanted to come because obviously I had a relationship with him. I knew that it would be the best opportunity for me to jump-start and get back to playing football the way I had been playing in previous years.”
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis claims that Zimmer did not have to do much campaigning for Newman’s case as Lewis had been aware of his abilities going all the way back to the 2003 draft.
“We knew Terence coming out (of college),” Lewis said. “When we drafted Carson (Palmer), Terence was one of three players we considered taking that year in ’03.”
Newman has been a consistent and productive member of the Bengals’ secondary all season, even intercepting Peyton Manning twice in a loss to the Broncos. Lewis talked about how pleased he has been with Newman’s contributions.
“He’s really brought a veteran leadership of understanding the opponent and understanding formations, personnel, routes and so forth.”
This Sunday Newman will have an opportunity to play against
“It will be different,” Newman said. “I got to see him, of course, extensively in practice and got to admire some of the things that he’s done as a football player, how he leads the offense and the knowledge that he has for the game. It will be interesting to see it from a different perspective so to speak. (I’ll) just try to help with my knowledge of some of his tendencies with some of the guys here.”
Regardless of what happens in Sunday’s matchup between the Bengals and Cowboys, don’t be surprised to see Newman back in Texas in the offseason. Despite his less-than-glorious departure from Dallas, Newman says that he still considers Big D to be his home.
“(Dallas) is still going to be my home base,” Newman said. “It’s not like I’m going to play nine years (in Cincinnati). Once the season’s over I’ll be back in Dallas. Me and (Jason) Hatcher will be back on the golf course as usual.”
Newman even said that he would enjoy catching up with Jones before the game if the opportunity presented itself.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll see him at one point in time,” Newman said. “If it happens where we have some time out there then I’d love to say hello to him and see how he’s doing.”
Some people might say that Newman never lived up to expectations as a Cowboy. Some might say that his contributions were never truly appreciated. As for Newman, he claims to be too busy as a Cincinnati Bengal to have time to look back at his tenure with the Dallas Cowboys.
“I haven’t (looked back on it) yet,” Newman said. “I just focus on what I can do and not on what I could have done. … Of course, a lot of people will say, ‘I wish I would have done this better or done that better,’ but at the end of the day, I’m where I’m supposed to be, obviously, and I’m content with it.”