Cam Newton was brief in his press conference after he and the Panthers lost the Super Bowl.
Newton’s answers consisted of the following phrases: “No,” “They outplayed us” and “I don’t know what you want me to say.”
Then, abruptly, he got up. He left. It later came out that Chris Harris of the Broncos was answering questions regarding Newton’s performance on Sunday.
“I’m done,” he said.
It made people mad. It made people upset. The guy who had done nothing to shy away from attention, with his dabbing and dancing, suddenly didn’t want the spotlight anymore.
From a media perspective, it’s interesting. Reporters complain of ‘coach speak’ and trained answers as oft as the sun sets in the West. So when a guy finally shows some emotion, we crucify him. When a guy isn’t as gloomy as we think he should be, we label. When a guy that has just lost the biggest game of his life doesn’t respond the way you expect him to respond, we call him immature.
Newton wears his emotions on his sleeve. He was upset. Newton and the Panthers had gotten into the biggest game in American sports, and they came up short. He’ll take heat for it. He didn’t play particularly well. His emotion, however, is what makes him great. His emotion is what made him the MVP of the league. His emotion is the reason his team played in the Super Bowl.
It’s okay for a 26-year-old to be upset by a loss in the biggest game that he’s ever played. It’s okay for a fifth-year NFL quarterback not to be jolly and ecstatic after his team loses a game that meant everything. It’s okay for a guy that’s won more than he’s lost throughout his career to not handle failure the way we deem he should.
In a league that embraces a quarterback like Johnny Manziel, who had to go to alcohol rehab this off-season and is currently under fire for an alleged incident, they’ve crucified a guy that hands out footballs to children after touchdowns. In a league that embraces Ben Roethlisberger, who has had many off-the-field incidents, they’ve crucified a guy that helps children with special needs.
Sure, he probably could have handled it better. Sure, he could have answered the questions with more insight, but he didn’t. He didn’t make everyone happy.
He’ll learn, most likely, and it’ll be different the next time he’s in the Super Bowl, because he will be in another Super Bowl.