From The Robesonian (Lumberton) …
Cam Newton, the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers who has an MVP but not a Vince Lombardi trophy, had a horrific game on Sunday in Super Bowl 50, a 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos, a loss mitigated somewhat for fans of the home team who found solace in Peyton Manning ending his career — most likely — on the highest note.
But Newton was even worse in the post-game press conference, where he sat slumped with a hoodie, sullen, offering snarky one-word answers before getting up and exiting the post-game interview after a modest 3 minutes. In doing so, Newton gave the haters — and he has plenty of them — plenty of additional ammunition, while making the job of his defenders — and he has plenty of them — a bit more difficult.
With Cam, few folks straddle the fence. That is what happens when you have an athlete making millions of dollars a year who dares to have fun and refuses to be apologetic. He also happens to be black — and yes, that does color how some people perceive him.
Two days removed from the game, Newton met with the press, and if his intent was to apologize, he fumbled again.
“I’ve been on record to say I’m a sore loser,” Newton said. “Who likes to lose? You show me a good loser and I’m going to show you a loser. It’s not a popularity contest. I’m here to win football games.”
But he offered this, which suggests he possesses enough self-awareness to understand an apology was in order, even if he couldn’t muster up the will to vocalize it.
“I had a lot of time to go back and play everything back. I’m human. I never once said that I was perfect. I never proclaimed that I was perfect … ,” he said.
For Newton, things might have come a bit too easily. He is a physical freak, unlike anything even the NFL has seen at quarterback — big, strong, fast and with a rifle for an arm. He was on an NCAA championship team at Auburn, and even though the Panthers struggled for a while with him under center, they put together an incredible season that was 15 points shy of magical — and the future will require shades.
So Newton isn’t accustomed to things going the other way — and that was apparent in his body language on and off the field Sunday. He has to understand if you are going to win flamboyantly, then there will be always be those who delight in your failure, so the backlash is cliche.
We happen to believe Newton is a good guy at heart, and if a camera followed him around 24/7, we expect it would capture plenty of small but large deeds, especially in his relationship with children and people who are handicapped.
But he is wrong when he resurrects the Lombardi quote about losing, just as the famed Green Bay Packer coach was when he first uttered it.
No one is asking Newton to embrace losing or to hurt any less, especially when the stage is as big as it was. But the face of the franchise — and even the NFL — needs to be able to accept a defeat with grace, humility and a congratulatory word for the victors. That is not surrendering to defeat, but is a way to rise above it.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Losing gracefully is a victory.”