Why People Don’t Like Cam Newton: Part 2
About a week ago, I wrote an article defending Cam Newton, attributing the criticisms levied against the Panthers quarterback to a misunderstanding as to who Cam is. As a whole, I defend this stance, as I do feel like most people tend to view Cam’s behavior as abnormal and, thus, unacceptable. Going further, these criticisms (and the writing of my article) occurred before the events at the Super Bowl, making them largely unfounded and they largely boiled down to “not liking the guy.” However, following the events of this past weekend, I am forced to reexamine my stance and try to figure out exactly how I, and a vocal majority in the public, feel about Cam.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know about the events that took place during Cam Newton’s post game press conference. After a thoroughly disappointing performance in the game, Newton hardly answered the questions posed by reporters, ultimately getting up and walking out prematurely. Obviously, Mr. Newton has received a massive amount of backlash from the media and the public for these actions. In fact, Cam spoke today and expressed no regret for his actions, admitting himself that he is a sore loser.
First, let me try to defend Cam, as I did last week. There is an extremely small portion of the population who knows what it feels like to lose the Super Bowl, so anyone who tries to put themselves in Cam’s shoes should stop right there. We have NO idea what that feeling is like. Plus, it has become pretty clear that because of the set up of the post game press conference, Cam could overhear the gloating comments of victorious Broncos mere feet away from him. Chris Harris Jr., Broncos cornerback, admitted that he would have acted similarly to Cam had he been in that position. Nothing about that situation was easy for Cam, and he had a very human reaction to what he was subjected to.
Now, the other side. Cam Newton had done his fair share of talking throughout the year and, although I personally didn’t find it offensive, he was certainly gloating. Deservedly so, as he led his team to the best record in the league and the best season in his franchise’s history. However, if you intend to gloat when successful, you must be able to show humility in failure. Is this magnified because Cam is a quarterback? Yes. Is this magnified because he was recently named MVP? Of course. Is this magnified because he compared himself to LeBron James and is becoming the face of the NFL? Undoubtedly. If it was Thomas Davis or Josh Norman reacting this way, it is highly unlikely that the public would respond the same way. All of these things contribute to the spotlight on Cam being even brighter than normal. However, Cam welcomed that spotlight when things were going well. He cannot shirk that now that the going is rough.
Cam Newton’s behavior is not becoming of a guy who is supposed to be a leader in his locker room. As this leader (a mantle that, while possibly unwanted, Cam welcomed all year) it is his role to take on responsibility for the loss. Although the loss wasn’t entirely his fault, he gets paid to shoulder the load and be the representative for his teammates. Cam didn’t do this after the game, and he came across terribly.
As with most things, the proper response to Cam Newton’s behavior is somewhere in the middle. None of us are members of that locker room, and the words of support from Cam’s teammates could certainly be entirely genuine. Its very possible, and probably likely, that Cam’s teammates fully support Cam and view him as much of a leader as they have all season. At the end of the day, who are we to criticize someone for acting like any of us would if put in the same scenario?
That being said, Cam is not like “any of us.” He is someone who has done his fair share of attention grabbing throughout the season, and has invited criticism at every turn. He is someone who is paid to be the leader of his team and the face of the NFL, accepting this role prior to the disappointing end to his season. How do I feel about Cam now, after my defense of him last week and following his actions after the Super Bowl? Honestly, I think I could have looked past how he acted immediately following the game. Again, I feel like he reacted like any human would and its hard for me to fault him for that. However, his reaction to this on Tuesday showed a side of Cam that I feared his critics may have been right about. That he lacks maturity, and that he’s possibly as cocky as people thought he was. Worst of all, however, might be the fact that Cam lacks the ability to be reflective. His inability to take time away from the game, think about how he reacted, and amend the mistakes that he made shows that Cam may just be everything his critics think he is. At the end of the day, I still like Cam a whole lot, and I think he’s capable of changing. However, it seems like Cam is further away from making that change than I would have hoped. But hey, he’s always got next year.