Cam Newton needs to learn from Super Disaster

Cam Newton needs to learn from Super Disaster
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton speaks to the media at a postgame news conference following a 24-10 loss against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. (LiPo Ching / TNS)

The Face of the NFL was all but hidden under a hoodie after the Super Bowl. Its eyes stared down and its lips didn't want to move. If looks could kill, everyone within 100 feet would have left Levi's Stadium in a body bag.

Cam Newton put on quite a performance in his postgame news conference. As the Chinese New Year dawned Monday, the hottest topic wasn't about Denver winning or Peyton Manning's love of Budweiser.


It was about how the Year of the Cam had exploded in blaze of petulance.

Newton was called a sore loser, arrogant, babyish and on and on. His sorry play was seen as comeuppance for all that Superman showboating.

Newton's defenders said Young Cam was crushed by the defeat, he shouldn't have to jump through media hoops, and critics have deeper, nefarious hang-ups with Newton and his zebra-striped pants.

The truth is somewhere in between.

Newton has come a long way since he was throwing stolen laptops out of dorm windows at Florida. (Go ahead and say it — If he'd thrown that laptop on Sunday it would have missed the ground).

Newton's grown into an admirable figure in many ways. His play and personality qualify him as the league's marquee player. But he is still a work in progress, on and off the field.

On the field Sunday, Newton had two fumbles, an interception and a look of frustrated befuddlement. Except for when he could have jumped into a scrum and tried to recover a crucial fumble. Then he suddenly had the look of C-3PO seeing Darth Vader.


Some things beg for an explanation, especially when they are seen by 115 million or so curious Americans. Newton was having none of it.

He set a Super Bowl record for Shortest Press Conference By A QB — 2 minutes, 31 seconds. It featured 14 questions, 11 of which he answered in three or fewer words.

The questioning was gentle, designed mainly just to get the player to provide a sound bite or two. Newton knows the game. He's been doing it for years.

Anytime a jock blows off the press, the defense is that it's just a bunch of self-important media jackals, so it's okay. But the self-important jackals are asking questions for millions of fans who couldn't fit into the press room.

The jock isn't just blowing off the Birmingham News and ESPN. He's blowing off everyone who reads and watches those outlets.

Sure, it's a pain, especially after a galling loss. Such duties come when you're pulling down $19.5 million a year and your employer wants to keep customers hooked.


Do you think Manning, Tom Brady and Jim Kelly wanted to be hustled into chaotic media tent 20 minutes after losing Super Bowls? How about poor Russell Wilson, who threw the Interception Heard 'Round The World last year?

I remember Manning after he threw a pick-six that sealed the Colts' 31-17 loss to New Orleans in Super Bowl XLIV. He put on a suit, stood at the podium, sweat still pouring down his forehead, and patiently relived the interception horror for 15 minutes.

When Newton was asked what happened on the fumble he didn't try to recover, he slowly raised his hand and batted the question away.

"I don't know," he said.

That clears that up.

Newton has been getting a lot of advice since Sunday. Mine would be go to Tahiti, sit on a beach and read a little poetry, specifically Rudyard Kipling discussing how "You'll be a Man, my son."

"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster; And treat those two impostors just the same."

Newton can certainly handle Triumph. Sunday's Disaster showed he still has a lot of growing up to do.