You had a bad day, Cam Newton.
“The camera don’t lie”, as the song goes.
A key mistake in the public spotlight – specifically an early exit during the Super Bowl 50 post-game press conference – is now likely to lead to a bad month for Newton.
Why? Because the media doesn’t let things like this go.
Completely engulfed in a black Panthers hoodie, Newton’s somber look and early departure has not surprisingly led to an ocean-sized flood of media opinions, most of which are painting Cam in a very negative light.
But what most people don’t realize is that we should’ve seen this coming.
And not just in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 50 when after being hit for what seemed like the millionth time, Newton had a convulsing temper tantrum in the end zone, much like a two year-old trying to figure out Legos for the first time.
More so, we often forget that while an extremely talented and athletic football player with an infinite ceiling, Cam Newton is just five years removed from the NFL Draft. That and over seven years ago (in November 2008), Newton was suspended by the Florida Gators after being arrested on felony charges for allegedly stealing another student’s laptop. Let’s not forget the 2010 season at Auburn where Cam’s father Cecil was accused of seeking large sums of cash to recruit his son. Cam was cleared and eligible to play, but still failed to handle the situation well on a number of occasions with the media.
The present day media got duped by a 26 year-old kid that still has room to grow. It was fooled by the National Football League’s MVP, a talented guy that encountered next to no adversity during the 2015 season.
When you play for a team that went 17-1 prior to the Super Bowl and led the league in point differential (+192) during the regular season, there is little adversity.
Whether it was “dab” dances, first down signals, or handing footballs to kids in the stands, Cam Newton had a ton of fun this season.
A TON of fun.
But after being force-fed a reality sandwich in front of the largest football audience of the year, Newton was simply too full to swallow his pride.
Adversity and fun are not good bedfellows.
Yes, Cam Newton was energetic and smiley for an entire year, including during the Super Bowl’s media week. So, once he made his appearance wrapped in hooded melancholy, it became a much bigger story.
Bear in mind, no one expected Cam to show up flashing those pearly whites, but his actions tossed kerosene into this media fire.
This isn’t a condemning of Cam’s behavior during the Super Bowl 50 press conference, although it isn’t handing him a free pass either.
Nobody cares if Cam Newton heard an opponent making comments during the press conference and that’s the reason he walked off stage. Plain and simple, Newton had a responsibility to address the media and not because it’s NFL policy, but because he’s the face of the Carolina Panthers franchise and one of the faces of the league.
This doesn’t state any of that. It is simply meant to point out that a full season of smiles and success doesn’t easily eliminate past history and behavior.
Second chances are second chances. We hand them away like free samples at the supermarket and in most cases, they’re warranted.
Cam Newton has received second chances and he has moved forward over the years, although he’s certainly had his doubters. Good behavior – both on and off the field – can aid in moving towards a squeaky clean slate.
He will always be that “love him or hate him” player, driving some critics crazy with his antics, his dances and his ear-to-ear grins. Maybe some people just expect a signal caller to be more business-like.
I personally felt that he was rather refreshing this season.
But once Super Bowl 50 hit, Cam Newton had a bad day. He was pressured. He was outplayed. He overthrew receivers. He failed to dive for fumbles that were right under his nose.
Then he failed in the post-game spotlight, too.
Adversity came and took a gargantuan bite out of him, leaving all those first downs, all those victories and all those free football handouts to disappear into Mile High thin air.
Cam Newton is living proof that maturity is the hardest trait to develop.
And at age 26, he has plenty of time to prove his doubters wrong…