Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Grow up, Cam
One of the best tests of a person's character is how they react in adverse circumstances. It's a test Cam Newton failed miserably in the immediate aftermath of Super Bowl 50.
Newton was all smiles and confidence heading into the game, and why wouldn't he be? Twenty-four hours removed from being named the NFL's Most Valuable Player for quarterbacking pro football's most potent offence to a league-best record, Newton and the Carolina Panthers were sitting pretty as 5-and-a-half point favorites over Denver. Not one to shun the limelight in good times, Newton lapped up the accolades and strutted his considerable style in the Super Bowl run-up - even wearing gold cleats with "MVP" emblazoned on them during the pre-game warmup. That might have been the last straw for karma, which grabbed Newton by the throat at kickoff and didn't let go until the final gun sounded on an utterly humiliating 24-10 loss on the biggest stage in professional sports.
The subsequent one-man sulkfest was probably the most sullen display since Bill Belichick's next-level brooding after the New York Giants ended New England's bid for a perfect season in Super Bowl 42. No one expected Newton to come bouncing into the media room sprinkling bon mots like fairy dust, but between his body language and shallow, monosyllabic answers to relevant questions, he made Leonard Cohen look Charo on a three-night molly bender.
Not everyone thought Newton was out of line for refusing to engage the media in a meaningful way. There was the predictable race-baiting from the usual social justice warrior suspects claiming Newton was being hated on only because he's black - although that doesn't explain the thoroughly derisive welcome lily white New England quarterback Tom Brady received when past Super Bowl MVPs were introduced before the game - and there are those who say their only expectations from athletes are on the field of play. Be that as it may, the overwhelming majority of football fans undoubtedly wanted to know what the league MVP had to say after totally shitting the bed in the Super Bowl, and whether or not Newton or anyone else likes it, he has a professional obligation to accommodate them. Media relations are part of the job description, and Newton was thoroughly and inexcusably unprofessional in the way he handled those obligations.
Newton doubled down two days after the Super Bowl, refusing to apologize and trotting out the shopworn "show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser" excuse for behaving like a petulant child. No one likes to lose, but show me a gracious loser and I'll show you a man ready for the next level of success. Newton clearly learned nothing from a valuable experience. As long as his attitude remains unchanged, he is unworthy of being called a champion.