The conclusions of Cam Newton’s Super Bowl 50 and his postgame press session sparked a greater tsunami of animated football chatting than the game itself. How the NFL’s top-ranked team lost and then how the NFL’s top-ranked player (MVP) appeared to lose it were certainly more interesting fodder than a largely less than compelling game.
But something didn’t seem to ring quite right in either his behavior or the denunciations of it, either for his failing to sacrifice all in pursuit of a pivotal fourth-quarter fumble, or for failing to give more than a few cursory answers to questions about the game.
That Newton was grumpy and didn’t try to hide it was frankly bordering on refreshing for its candor. No faux stuff, just unhappy and there it was. As Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer tweeted via @josephperson, Cam Newton making no apologies for postgame press conference. "Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser."
Newton had already spent time with Peyton Manning and others on the field after the game so the real sportsmanship box was already checked.
I initially found his press-conference exit “bothersome.” But later I was able to listen closely to replays of the press conference. Clearly hearing the Denver players giving their postgame celebratory accounts was lost in the Newton moment; you develop an ability to block out non-essential background noise when you’re trying to hear one particular interview. Sometimes you don’t realize what you were hearing until later.
Expecting Newton, who has been the epitome of available virtually since he came into the NFL, even in bad seasons, to stand there answering questions while Broncos' Chris Harris and others were enthusiastically recounting how they throttled him seems a little harsh in hindsight.
Both Newton and coach Ron Rivera addressed the matter of the fumble and both said variations of the same thing – that the issue wasn’t lack of effort, but a question of Newton’s angle and what he was endeavoring to do while a metric ton of linemen was bearing down on the loose football.
[SHOP BEARS: Get your Bears gear right here]
Watching the replays, what Newton in fact appears to do is make a calculated, targeted play for the football, as if expecting it to roll loose from the first pile of incoming bodies – which it does. Newton wasn’t in position for a precise launch into the scrum but he did position himself to be the “second wave.” The football just got past him.
Consider this: With what Cam Newton has displayed so often, hurling his body around to get into end zones, a recurring vision of John Elway helicopter’ing in his day, does anyone really think Newton would hold anything back at a pivotal moment in the biggest game of his life?