If you thought we'd beaten enough dead horses this week with the Deflategate re-ruling, Cam Newton chose this week to give his first expansive comments about his infamous post-Super Bowl walk-out.
The Carolina Panthers quarterback, who famously blew off media questions after an upset Super loss to the Denver Broncos back in February, talked in depth about that controversial press conference, speaking to Ebony about the 150 seconds that drew hundreds of headlines and millions of opinions, some based on the right reasons, most based on the wrong ones.
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Stopping short of an apology, Newton said he understood why his actions drew heat.
"The truth is, I represent something way bigger than myself. I'm doing it for [my fans and family] and I felt like I let them down."
I don't know about that. Were Newton's fans truly hurt by his series of one-word answers, followed by his pouty walk-out? Maybe at first, but you'd imagine that in the ensuing hubbub, in which people seemed to take one extreme (he's a horrible loser and person) or the other (nobody would have said anything if Peyton Manning had done this), that Newton's fans would have been firmly in the second camp, vigorously rallying to their QB's defense. (And judging by the emails I received Super Bowl night, that's exactly what happened.) It was the critics who were upset and they don't need, nor deserve, an apology. This was a bad PR move, not a slight against humanity. An explanation, however, is welcome.
"Who is anyone to tell me, 'Man, it's just an interview.' You haven't been in that situation. You didn't have millions of people watching you. Your heart wasn't pumping [with] the embarrassment or the anxiety of the stress of dealing with that type of game.
We're 0-for-2 here, Cam. That's a ridiculous quote, as it essentially says anybody who hasn't played a professional sport can't be informed enough to have an opinion on it. But we can because we've seen hundreds of athletes and coaches speak after losses and know that very few, and almost no superstars that I can remember, get up in the middle and bolt like a sullen teenager leaving the dinner table. No, we weren't dealing with the anxiety or stress. But we're also not getting paid in the neighborhood of nine figures to accept that burden, nor to give a little to a media that has helped turn you into a star.
That's not to say Newton was wrong or is some sort of villain for his actions. He isn't a good sport or a bad sport based on the press conference, the same way he's not a good loser or a bad loser because he shared what looked like a heartfelt handshake with Peyton Manning after the game. The real story is somewhere in the middle.
The problem with Crabby Cam is that he's supposed to be the future of the NFL - the heir apparent to Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. He's the QB who, along with Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and whoever else steps up, leads the NFL into its next era. But to sit there like some bratty kid was a bad look for the league, for the mouthy Panthers and, most importantly, for Cam himself. That's it. There's nothing more nefarious than that. Newton acted like a bad loser. He correctly got called on it. On a night when no one would have been talking about him, Newton inadvertently focused attention on himself - negative attention - for no good reason. He seems to know this now.
"I just wasn't ready to talk. Was I mad? Hell, yeah! But there could have been a better way to control it, and that's why I think having more time would have helped."
It would have. Don't defend Newton's actions at the press conference. He was wrong. He could have put on his suit - the one he would have proudly worn in victory - answered a few generic questions with a few generic answers, gotten up, said thank you, and walked off into a controversy-free postseason. He chose option B.