KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Terence Newman’s longevity is unparalleled compared to most football players from Kansas State that have gone on to play in the National Football League.
Newman, a starting left cornerback for the Cincinnati Bengals, is entering his 12th season. He is the longest tenured former Wildcat player on an active NFL roster, along with being the most experienced on the Bengals’ roster.
“I’m a seasoned vet, nothing wrong with that,” said Newman with a smile last Thursday night inside the Bengals’ locker room after a 41-39 preseason loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
Only three K-State greats — quarterbacks Steve Grogan and Lynn Dickey and defensive back Clarence Scott — have played more years in the league than Newman.
Grogan, an Ottawa native, played for 16 NFL seasons, all with the New England Patriots during the 1970s and ‘80s. Dickey, an Osawatomie native, and Scott, from Atlanta, both played for 13 seasons. Dickey played in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the first four seasons with the Houston Oilers and his final nine with the Green Bay Packers, while Scott played his entire career with the Cleveland Browns in the ‘70s and early ‘80s.
Checking in at No. 4 on the list is Newman, a native of Salina, who is entering his third season with the Bengals after spending his first nine with the Dallas Cowboys. The fifth overall pick in the 2003 draft, Newman was a two-time Pro Bowl selection with the Cowboys and owns 36 career interceptions.
“God has blessed me with the ability to have no serious injuries and to be able to run and change direction a little bit,” Newman said. “I’m able to tell my story and give my knowledge, not just football, but things that go with everyday life.
“Just going through training camp, you’ve got a lot of youthful, exuberant guys running around and whatnot, so it’s exciting for me, just to see if I can keep up with these young boys. I’m still trying to get better, you know. No different from anybody else.”
Newman had his 2013 season cut short because of a knee injury on Dec. 8. He missed the final four games, including an AFC wildcard game, but it was not an issue during the offseason.
Newman didn’t hint on how long he wants to play beyond this season.
“It’s about competing and making each other better,” he said. “When my level starts to drop or if I say I’m done or the team will say, ‘You’ve had a great run, but it’s time you move on or figure something else out.’ … until it gets to one of those, I’ll be out here.”
Starting the first 13 games in 2013, Newman logged 51 tackles and had 14 passes defensed, which ranked No. 2 on the team. His most memorable game from last season came against the Green Bay Packers, where he had six tackles, an interception and scooped up a teammate’s fumble off a Green Bay fumble and sprinted 58 yards for a late fourth-quarter TD to help the Bengals to a 34-30 come-from-behind victory.
During his time at K-State, Newman, a Salina Central product, was a consensus All-America selection, the first Wildcats player to win the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back and also the Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year his senior season in 2002.
Gifted with blazing speed, Newman was a two-time Big 12 champion in the 100-meter dash, setting a school-record time of 10.2 seconds in the process. He took that reputation to the NFL.
“The funny thing is everybody asks about 40 times,” Newman said. “The combine is the last time you ever run them, so I haven’t run one since 2003. As long as I can keep up with the guys that I can cover in practice, I think I will be all right.
“The biggest (memories) are from where I’ve come since being a freshman (at Kansas State) and how I have progressed as a person and as a player. I worked my butt off just to get into the lineup and play. I finally cracked it my junior year and kept progressing. It’s just not being satisfied with being good, wanting to be the best, and that was my goal in college.”
Newman says he regularly stays in touch with K-State coach Bill Snyder.
“We have each others’ cell numbers,” Newman said. “He’s busy, just like I am, so I go back and try to see him as much as I can. It’s better to see him face-to-face, obviously, since we spent so much time together.
“He’s a great guy, a great coach and a great mentor. He’s going to go down as one of the best coaches in the history of college football so that speaks volumes.”