The curious case of Cam Newton

Photo Credit: Simon Bruty for Sports Illustrated/The MMQB

By: Noah Thomas

Does Cam Newton deserve all the negative press he has received since the conclusion of Super Bowl 50? That depends on who you ask.

Newton, one of the most polarizing figures in the National Football League among both analysts and fans, stormed out of his postgame press conference shortly after it began—falling just short of his required three minutes with the media. Much of those three minutes were filled by muttered, one-and-two-word answers on Newton’s part. Just one day after being named the League’s Most Valuable Player and coming off of one of the greatest offensive seasons in the history of football, Cam Newton’s professional life had been torn down around him in a matter of hours.

There was much talk before (and after) the game addressing how Newton and the Carolina Panthers would adjust to the defensive powerhouse the Denver Broncos brought to the table. Would they be able to establish the run game? If not, could Newton beat the Broncos with his arm?

It turned out that the answer to both questions was a resounding “no”. Von Miller, who was named Super Bowl MVP shortly after the game concluded, was the main cause of the Panthers’ struggles throughout the game. Six tackles, two forced fumbles, and nearly three sacks later established Miller as the difference between defeat and victory.

And after that 24-10 loss, Newton sat in a chair, on a podium, in front of nearly two dozen reporters and media members while trying to process what had happened. Ignoring his answers to questions, it was clear by all other indications—such as body language and eye movement—just how dejected he was during that moment. The man the world saw sitting in that chair was broken. There was no other way for him to react.

Critics of Newton attempt to point out the similarities between his press conference and those he gave during his first two years in the League—ones that showcased an immature, unprofessional football player who did not know how to lose. Pundits forget that the Carolina Panthers have finished with a losing record in three of Newton’s five professional seasons.

Before he became a professional, Newton certainly did not know what losing truly felt like. Time has changed that, and if the 15-1 record posted by Carolina this season aided him in forgetting what a painful loss feels like, the results of Super Bowl 50 jogged his memory.

As for the hyperbolized criticism, Newton has defended himself very well in the weeks since. A few days afterward, he spoke to reporters about his behavior and, being steadfast with his words, adamantly claimed that there was nothing he would change on how he handled himself.

“Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser,” he said, channeling his inner Vince Lombardi.

When asked about the future, Newton said his team would return.

“We will be back, and I mean that. We will be back and I say that with so much emphasis. If I offended somebody, that’s cool, but I know who I am, and I’m not about to conform nor bend for anybody’s expectations because you or anybody’s else’s expectations would never exceed mine.”

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