Skip to main content

Rams News | Los Angeles Rams -

Where Are They Now? Former NFL defensive back & Rams Legend Anthony Newman

Anthony Newman was "the happiest kid on the planet" when he was drafted by the Rams in 1988 for three reasons – his family, a friend, and, well, he'd be living in L. A.

"I'm from Portland, Oregon, and getting drafted on the West Coast, now my parents could watch me play more easily. So I was very happy about that," said Newman, a safety who was chosen in the second round from the University of Oregon. "And I had a teammate that was on the Rams, a guy named Cliff Hicks. He played at Oregon and was a defensive back, as well.

"And then just the Rams. I mean, I loved the Rams growing up. So it was with my buddy, and in Southern California. I was a young man excited to go to Southern Cal with all the sunshine and beautiful women."

In addition to Hicks and the weather, Newman would also have Michael Stewart on his side.

"Michael Stewart was like my big brother," Newman said. "He really showed me the ropes of what was going on. He was only a second-year player, but I got a lot of information from him. He had a lot of knowledge on and off the field."

Newman didn't realize how much he'd need that knowledge. A two-time All-Pac-10 safety, his performance at the Combine gave Rams' coaches the notion of moving him to cornerback.

"I never played corner in my life," Newman laughed. "And then they put me as a nickel, covering guys in a slot. It was like, 'Are you kidding me? Press coverage? Wait, what is going on here?' So that was pretty tough, I'm not going to lie. I was calling my mom saying, 'Hey, I don't know about this. This is crazy. This is tough.' And she said, 'Hang in there.'

"And then maybe halfway through the season, I was flustered that I was only playing in nickel and special teams. And Jackie Slater, the old vet, came to me and goes, 'Hey, don't be frustrated. It's a blessing. You want to play a long time in this league, right? Well, if you play early in life, you'll get beat up. You won't last long. Now you're just going to prolong your career. You'll play a long time.'"

Heeding the advice of his mom and Slater, Newman stuck with it and collected five interceptions during his first four seasons. Including one in Seattle during the 1991 season which he would return 58 yards. He, however, believed statistics are fine, but victories were better.


"A lot of my family and friends were there, and it was special because you don't get to play in front of your family a whole lot in the NFL," Newman said. "So for them to be there and see that, and then getting an interception…

"But it wasn't about individual goals or let me see what I can do for me. It was always about the team. That's what I was taught back in college and even in high school. How do you help the team? It was just an interception that happened to be against a very good football team, but it was to try to help our team out from a defensive standpoint."

From an overall team standpoint, things changed in 1992 when John Robinson was replaced as the head coach by Chuck Knox, who was taking his second tour with the Rams, having previously held the job for five seasons, 1973-77.

And things changed for Newman, too. Playing under a new position coach, Joe Vitt, he became the full-time starter at strong safety and co-led the team with a career-high four interceptions.

"Chuck Knox was another good head coach, but he was a legend. I mean, I was in awe of him. He was a guy that's been around a long time, understood the game," Newman said. "And then he had a staff around him that was unbelievable. Joe Vitt was probably one of the best coaches I've ever had in my life. He really helped me understand the game from a defensive safety. Understand what the offense is trying to do to us.

"I remember Joe Vitt was big on creating relationships. Going into the NFL, you always hear, 'Oh, don't get close to the coaches. Coaches are not going to get close to you because it's a cutthroat business and they're going to get rid of you.' And he was like, 'No, we're going to be best buddies.' He was totally different. I still talk to him today."

Spending seven of his 12 years in the NFL with the Rams, Newman's fondest memory from those days occurred during the 1989 season when Eric Dickerson and the Indianapolis Colts came to play at Anaheim Stadium.

"Eric Dickerson was my idol growing up. I mean; he was the man. I dressed like him. I did everything like Eric. And I'll never forget this, there was a nickel situation and I came in the game and had the running back. I looked up and Eric Dickerson was in the running back spot, but he went on a pass route. And I was just standing there when the ball snapped, just looking at him," Newman said.

"And I realized, 'Anthony, you're playing. That's your guy. Go get him.' So I just took off and it was like the strangest thing. I went to go waistline tackle him, and I just missed everything. I looked up and see him running down the sideline with that form that he had, you know, leaning back, his knees up.


"I got yelled at during film session that next day. 'Anthony, how come you didn't go cover your guy? Why are you standing there staring at him?' And I was like. 'I was staring at my idol.' That was a moment that a lot of kids, they will never have. To play against your idol and then be in awe of your idol during a play."

Midway through his career, Newman began planting seeds in his hometown, "The City of Roses," by offering free camps for kids after noticing that there were few Oregonians playing in the NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball.

"What I wanted to do was, come back to my community, start camps, and give the opportunity to kids to get some football IQ, enhance their game, and maybe get more kids (earning a scholarship to get) in college or in the NFL from the state of Oregon," Newman said.

"That's why I started those camps. I've always liked helping kids out. My dad was always talking about helping people, making sure people get what they need. And so I was like, 'Okay, I'm going to help these kids out with the profession that I know. I can give them knowledge.'"

After 10 years, the Anthony Newman Sports Camps moved to Nike World Campus in Beaverton, and now the multi-sport summer day camps are held at the Catlin Gabel School in Portland.

"We do everything: basketball, soccer, football, track. A little bit of baseball and softball. We do it all for kids," Newman said. "They come for the week, and we will pick a day and say, 'We're going to play these two sports today.' Or 'We're going to play maybe five sports today.' We kind of just pick and choose during the week and the kids love it.

"It's fun for me because I love to see the excitement and the joy with the kids. Every day when you come to camp, "Hey, we're going to do this today and have a blast.' And the kids are excited to do whatever you want to do. They're happy to be there. We call it the NFL, National Fun League. We make sure they have fun."

For the past 12 years, Newman has also coached scholastic football in the Portland area, the last four at West Linn High School, where he's the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.

He and his wife, Teri, have three adult children: Baylee, Anthony Jr., and Daelyn, who is engaged to Las Vegas Raiders safety Jaydon Grant.

"His father is Brian Grant," Newman said. "He used to play for the Blazers and the Lakers, and played 12 years in the NBA. I played 12 years in the NFL. And Jaydon's mom was a Golden State Warriors cheerleader. Well, my wife was a Rams cheerleader. So my daughter right now is living my wife's life. That's a wild theme right now. It's absolutely crazy."

Related Content