At Super Bowl 50, Cam Newton looked like a guy who was playing with the weight of the world on his shoulders. That weight proved to be too much.
The titanic matchup between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers was a sight for sore eyes, especially if you are a Panthers fan, or someone like me who was rooting for Newton to secure his first Super Bowl ring.
This is now the third article I’m writing on Newton: The first an article foreshadowing his MVP and Super Bowl chances and another leading up to the actual game. I’m a firm believer that athletes, regardless of race, deserve to be heralded when they deserve it, but also deserve to be criticized when applicable. In this case it is absolutely applicable to criticize the newly crowned 2015 MVP Cam Newton.
First things first. Congratulations to the Super Bowl champion Broncos; the team responsible for stymieing Carolina’s potent offense all night and perhaps, subsequently, exposing the “real” Cam Newton.
I was incredibly disappointed with Newton’s performance on and off the field on Sunday. Let’s examine on the field first. Newton finished the game completing 18 out of 41 passes, for 265 yards and zero touchdowns. He overthrew several receivers who were open; they didn’t help much because they dropped several of his passes. He threw an interception and fumbled twice, one of which was recovered and returned for a touchdown.
Fair to say he was terrible.
The Broncos’ defense was the real MVP in stopping the MVP of the National Football League.
Not that I’m a Panthers fan, but I was genuinely disappointed. I was shocked and emotionally upset because I so desperately wanted Newton to win. I wanted this to be icing on the cake for a magical season for him and his team. I wanted this Super Bowl victory to validate Newton’s arrival and silence the detractors, the critics.
But that didn’t happen and how Newton responded after the game did nothing but serve to support the narrative people have been promoting all along. Arrogant…Lacks humility… Spoiled…Entitled…Front-runner…Aloof. Newton was all these things and then some during that postgame interview.
I’ve never played in, won, or lost a Super Bowl, so I’m not going to try to cast myself into what he was thinking or feeling at that moment. But the reality of the situation is it doesn’t matter. It especially doesn’t matter when fellow teammates Luke Kuechly and Josh Norman sat there equally devastated and begrudgingly answered similar questions that were posed to Newton.
Even dating back to last year, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had to sit there and answer questions after one of the most egregious calls in Super Bowl history lost his team the game. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had to sit there and answer questions after his team lost to the New York Giants, ending their undefeated season.
A report came out and said that an already visibly irritated Newton heard audio of Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr., speaking about the game and what they did to defeat the Panthers. The story says this prompted Newton to ultimately walk off.
This was not a good look at all.
Coming on the heels of receiving AP offensive player of the year and the MVP award, Newton was reduced to a petulant child after the Super Bowl loss. He came off as a sore-loser, as a front-runner and someone incredibly immature.
There will be plenty of people who will never forgive or forget his actions. They will tear him down now until there’s something else more compelling to talk about. They will use this flash of immaturity to serve as an indictment on what he’s accomplished and to support their own personal narrative of the star quarterback.
I, however, won’t.
I still remain a huge fan of Newton the person and Newton the player. I have no doubt that he will go on to have a special career. Once his maturity catches up with his talent, look out world and look out NFL. Newton has been the Most Valuable Player all season long, but on Sunday he needed to be the Most Valuable Panther on the field.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t.
Sometimes in football and in life, you have to lose in order to learn how to win.
Marcus Lamar is a New York-based sports journalist. You can check out his podcast “Marc My Words” on Soundcloud, YouTube and coming to iTunes soon. Follow him on Twitter @iam_marcuslamar.