NFL

Panthers QB Cam Newton’s Reputation Will Take A Hit

on

One of the biggest stories of Super Bowl 50 came after the game, where Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton cut his press conference short after giving short answers to the mostly mindless questions he was asked.

Here is a transcript of the post game presser.

What’s your message to Panthers fans?
“We’ll be back.”

[Carolina coach] Ron [Rivera] said Denver two years ago had a tough time and they bounced back. Do you take that to heart?
“No.”

Can you put a finger on why Carolina didn’t play the way it normally plays?
“Got outplayed.”

Is there a reason why?
“Got outplayed, bro.”

Was it pretty much what you had seen on film from Denver? Anything different they put in for this game?
“Nothing different.”

Do we sometimes forget that defenses can still take apart the offenses in this game?
“No.”

What did Ron Rivera say after the game?
“He told us a lot of things.”

Anything in particular that was memorable?
“Nope.”

Obviously you’re disappointed. On the biggest stage it’s difficult, I know.
[nods head]

Did you see anything that you didn’t expect tonight?
“They just played better than us. I don’t know what you want me to say. They made more plays than us, and that’s what it comes down to. We had our opportunities. It wasn’t nothing special that they did. We dropped balls, we turned the ball over, gave up sacks, threw errant passes. That’s it. They scored more points than us.”

Can you put into words the disappointment you feel right now?
“We lost.”

Did Denver change anything defensively to take away your running lanes?
“No.”

I know you’re disappointed not just for yourself, but for your teammates. It’s got to be real tough.
[shakes head] “I’m done, man.”

Newton should have handled the press conference better.  It’s obvious that he was hurting, but a big part of the job of quarterback is taking the “punishment” following a bad game.

Especially when you’re going to celebrate when things go your way.

On Tuesday, the NFL’s MVP doubled-down on his comments in the Panthers’ media availability. 

“I’ve been on the record saying that I’m a sore loser,”  Newton said to reporters in Charlotte on Tuesday. “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 am here to win football games.”

Newton followed: “I have said it since Day 1. I am who I am. I know what I’m capable of and I know where I am going. If you want me to conform, I’m not that guy. If you want me to be that type of person, I’m not that. I am happy to say that. This league is a great league with or without me. I understand that. I am my own person. I take pride in that.”

Newton’s passion and competitiveness are respectable and understandable. Censorship of our athletes is usually a terrible thing, but this was the time for the flamboyant MVP to back down, admit to some frustration and move on.

“It happened,” Newton explained about his post-game press conference. “I didn’t want to talk to the media at the time. The truth of the matter is that I still don’t want to talk to the media.”

Instead of giving a politically correct explanation, Newton doubled-down and thus sounds like a petulant child who didn’t get his way.

You can’t accept all of the adoration when things go right and then hide with your hood up over your head when you lose.  That’s how you lose respect.

“He was completely unprofessional,” a current NFL player said of the Panthers quarterback.  “Losing sucks, but you can’t do that.”

Perhaps the worst thing Newton said in his press conference was regarding his fourth quarter fumble in which he made little to no effort to recover the ball with the outcome of the Super Bowl hanging in the balance.

“I didn’t dive on one fumble because the way my leg was (positioned),” Newton told reporters in Charlotte on Tuesday. “It could have been contorted in a way. You say my effort? I didn’t dive down. I fumbled – that’s fine. That’s fine. We didn’t lose the game because of that fumble.”

There are a number of reasons why the Panthers lost that go above and beyond the play of their quarterback- The wide receivers not making plays, the offensive tackles being completely overmatched and Mike Tolbert inexplicably fumbling twice- still, Carolina was only down six points with four minutes remaining when Newton fumbled the ball away.  The outcome was far from determined.

Denver Broncos safety T.J. Ward, who ultimately recovered the fumble had a difference explanation on what happened.

“If he would have touched that ball, I was gonna hit him right in his face, and I wasn’t the only one,” Ward said, per NFL.com. “We were hungry for that one. We saw that ball and it was like hyenas on an antelope. And I don’t know – maybe he needed to stay healthy for next year.”

Ward is an outspoken guy, but that last sentence gives you a peek into Newton’s reputation among NFL players.  Other sources who have worked with him in business aspects claim that he’s very difficult to deal with.  It appears that his peers don’t respect him much either.

Newton is a once in a lifetime talent at the quarterback position, but it takes more than just immense talent to be a complete success.  It’s likely that he will once again navigate his team to the Super Bowl and maybe he’ll win next time.

If he doesn’t win, he’ll have to learn from this situation and handle defeat more graciously.  Until he does, this story and his tarnished reputation will not go away and this will affect his brand.

Is Newton a bad guy?  Not at all.

He’s a player whose minor transgressions will be overblown and he’s a lightning rod that many love to criticize.

For all of the Newton “haters,” he just gave them plenty of fuel and if he’s going to be a true icon he’s going to have to handle defeat better, even if it makes him look like a “loser” in his own mind.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.