He’s not dabbing and celebrating in the end zone, and already the critics are bashing Cam Newton. He’s not using race as an excuse, and already the naysayers are speaking ill of him. Not a day, not a moment goes by that his detractors do not castigate him.
Newton, so hurt and disillusioned, gave his bashers all the ammunition in the world to bash him in the aftermath of his postgame press conference at Super Bowl 50. In the wake of his presser after a heart-crushing 24-10 defeat to the Denver Broncos Sunday night, he’s painted as a bad guy and not a young quarterback who doesn’t lead by example. No matter what the circumstances, Newton is a black man who wears do-rags at the workplace, dances and showboats.
The truth of the matter is, he’s an African-American quarterback who is quick to respond to the media, unafraid to speak his mind. Black quarterbacks are greatly evaluated more than the white QBs, and much of it has to do with the media and the way one perceives a culture before educating themselves about one’s ethnicity.
People in this country have a tendency to build people up and knock them down, and once they fall, they celebrate their demise. Newton is a 26-year-old who knows right from wrong, and judging from his behavior, which wasn’t as bad as it seems, a wave of backlash on social media with critics denigrating and berating him because he ignored multiple questions, gave one-word responses, cut the media session short and walked out abruptly on reporters on Sunday was a learning experience for him as he is still growing up as a person and developing into an evolutionary quarterback.
Bash the man no more. He showed up. He stepped onto the podium and talked to the media, with a swarm of reporters, TV crews, cameras mounted on tripods and microphones in his face, even though he was devastated and obviously not in the mood to talk to the media. On a team that was beaten, he was described as the biggest loser. From Superman to Incredible Sulk, from revered to reprimanded, Newton has suddenly damaged his image by many. As quickly as he grows up before our very eyes, Newton shows he’s not a poor loser and instead a competitor at best who hates to lose football games. It’s fascinating that folks, unable to empathize with him, have called him unprofessional and a sore loser in the way he took a demoralizing Super Bowl loss. Even if he sat slouching behind the table, wearing a black Panthers hoodie and a frown, noticeably mad and sullen, at least he showed up and confronted reporters at a mandatory postgame-Super Bowl interview session rather than risk an NFL fine.
“I’ve been on record to say I’m a sore loser. Who likes to lose? You show me a good loser, and I’m going to show you a loser,” said Newton, refusing to apologize after two days of national criticism. “It’s not a popularity contest. I’m here to win football games. If I offended anybody, that’s cool, but I know who I am and I’m not about to conform nor bend for anybody’s expectations because yours or anybody’s expectations would never exceed mine.”
Jumping to Newton’s defense, he had to make an appearance and address the media following the game. If not, the media and critics would have berated him for not showing up, and worse, the NFL would have fined him for not speaking to reporters, hit with questions about falling short in the biggest game of his career. You’re hurt. You’re lost for words. You’re not in the best mood. You’re getting over a defeat. The least thing on your mind, after a loss, is to sit at a microphone. You just want time to yourself, a moment to take a deep breath. It’s easy to unsympathetically target and attack Newton’s character. The public disparaged him because he conducted himself inappropriately when he acted like a child on punishment, and now everybody has something, once again, to say about Newton’s maturity and professionalism. A quarterback can’t dab when he’s winning football games and disappear when he’s losing. A quarterback has to show he is capable of being a leader, and I think Newton knows that.
So, yes, he hates to lose because he’s a competitor. Reporters and fans reacted with great surprise when he chose not to show grace in defeat, as he usually doesn’t show humility in defeat. While he has a penchant for being brutally honest and for showboating every time he throws a touchdown or rushes to the end zone, he’s being himself. The inability to illustrate grace and glass in defeat doesn’t make him a sore loser, not at all, but because of all the negative and polarizing energy, he’s judged so harshly by many of his critics.
Whether he leaves himself open to criticism because of his in-game celebrations, including his Superman poses and dabbing, he’s no different from the typical loser whose antics reveals immaturity. In fairness, no one is prefect and Newton is successful when he’s being himself. Not to be cocky or a sore loser, he’s continuing to prove to everyone that he’s growing up, even if you don’t see that side of him just yet. And now, as all things must fade away, it’s time to let it go and realize that he will learn from his mistakes as it comes with the territory of being a quarterback for an NFL franchise and role model for fans.
Please, move on. He’s not a politician. He does not want our vote. He’s a football player. He wants to win football games, not lose, or fall short of a Super Bowl title. Everyone expected him to apologize for his antics in the aftermath of a game, but he doesn’t owe you, anyone or me an apology as he did absolutely nothing wrong.
Every move or turn Newton makes, he’s a lightning rod for discussion.
It’s not easy being a Cam Newton.