Defending Cam Newton

In case anyone missed it, QB Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers congratulated Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos with a huge smile following his team’s defeat in Superbowl 50.

However, folks in the media have been focusing on Cam’s one-worded responses in the press room, labeling him as unsportsmanlike and a ‘sore loser.’ Some took it even further and accused him of being immature and a ‘boy.’

Cam Newton is the kind of person who wears his heart on his sleeves and I respect him for that. He was forced to sit down for an interview that I’m sure he was not interested in participating in, at least not at that particular moment immediately following the game.

Almost everyone believed Cam and the Panthers were going to win Superbowl 50. The odds were stacked in their favor and the idea of an impending victory may have seeped into Cam’s and the rest of the team’s heads.

How else would you react when you were supposed to win something because it’s in your destiny and because you’re number 1? It’s disappointing to come up short.

My two takeaways:

  1. Cam  was probably not expecting the game to unfold the way it did. He was probably not expecting to have a mediocre game when he played well all season long. After all, when we’re so used to winning, it can be hard to remember how it feels to lose. So we sulk because we’re confused. In our mind we’re thinking “what happened?” so in the same way that winning can feel surreal, losing can leave us disoriented too. Cam did nothing wrong in my opinion. His lack of interest in being interviewed, in being bothered after losing the biggest game of his career, offended some folks in the media and led to harsh backlash as a result.
  2. The idea of an inevitable win probably got to the heads of the Carolina team, including Cam’s. Winning – especially in sports – is never guaranteed. However, given the way Cam walked away from the press room on Feb 7, I’d like to make the case that he did win. When we’re working toward a dream, coming up short hurts and Cam was clearly hurting after the game. When it comes to Cam v. the Media, Cam was the winner that night. He choose to embrace his authenticity over giving canned, superficial answers to generic post-game questions asked by impatient interviewers.

People who can only see one side of the story – their side – can hate on Cam all they want. If teaching kids the importance of sportsmanlike conduct is the goal, folks in the media could lead by example though…

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