I'd like to apologize to Cam Newton. I was one of the millions who pounced on him for his post-Super Bowl performance.
(Note: Sorry to use the word "pounce," Cam. I know it's not in your vocabulary when it comes to fumbles).
I wrote the controversy over his press conference pout might be a good learning experience for Newton. I thought that after a cooling-off period, he would realize what a clown he made of himself.
Jeepers, was I wrong.
"I had a lot of time to go back and play everything back," Newton told NFL.com Tuesday. "I'm human. I never once said that I was perfect. I never proclaimed that I was perfect."
Nobody ever asked him to be perfect. But roughly 94.6 percent of observers, as well as most NFL veterans who cared to weigh in, expected him to be professional.
It's easy to be a pro when the good times are rolling. True character comes out in defeat. Then it was reinforced two days later when you triple down on your persecution complex.
Newton's post-post-game Q & A was more revealing than Sunday's walkout. Apparently it was insulting to even question Newton's pouting. Though after he finally explained why he didn't try to recover that fumble, it's fair game to question his valor.
Newton said he might have gotten hurt.
Welcome to football, Cam.
He said other quarterbacks don't hustle to make plays after throwing interceptions. True, but nobody expects Russell Wilson to try to take on J.J. Watt in an October game.
But if it's the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl and you're down one score and you fumble and the ball's bouncing around at your feet, you're not supposed to react like a Beverly Hills housewife who just saw a mouse run into the kitchen.
"We didn't lose that game because of that fumble," Newton said. "I can tell you that."
No, all they lost was any hope of winning the game. But hey, it was only the Super Bowl.
You know that explanation had to rankle his teammates, though the sports code dictated that they have to stand by their man.
At least Newton bothered to speak to reporters as players cleaned out their lockers Tuesday. He would have been better off walking off after taking zero questions.
"Who likes to lose?" Newton said. "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."
And he's the first?
I suppose Wilson wasn't there to win last year's Super Bowl, or Peyton Manning wasn't there to win the one before that. Yet they managed to get through post-game press conferences after crushing defeats without needing a pacifier. According to that definition, here are other members of Cam's Loser Club:
Tom Brady, Kurt Warner, Tony Dungy, Roger Federer, Arthur Ashe, John Wooden, Phil Mickelson, Mike Krzyzewski, Jimmie Johnson, Annika Sorenstam, Pat Summitt, David Robinson, Wayne Gretzky, John McCain, and Meryl Streep.
What a bunch of losers. Sure, Streep could have been acting when her name wasn't called a few times at the Oscars, but at least she was classy enough to fake it.
Everybody feels soreness when they lose, but there is such a thing as being gracious in defeat. Newton's excuse is that he wears his emotions on his sleeve, he's a competitor and he's just misunderstood.
After Tuesday, we actually understand Newton better than ever. He's a spotlight-loving football warrior when things are going his way.
When they don't, he's a self-absorbed peeve who refuses to truly grow up.