Reactions to Cam Newton's press conference
Losing the Super Bowl is never a good feeling, and being the immediate reason why your team lost the Super Bowl is even worse. For Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, the postgame press conference proved to be too much, especially with Broncos cornerback Chris Harris celebrating at his own conference right behind Newton. After three minutes giving mostly short answers to media questions, Newton abruptly left the press conference as Harris boasted how the Broncos shut down the Panthers’ offense. On Tuesday, Newton held a press conference that lasted over seven minutes, addressing his behavior after the Super Bowl among other topics. “I’ve had a lot of time to think about it. I’ve seen so much blown out of proportion. At the end of the day when you invest so much time, when you sacrifice so much and things don’t go as planned, I think emotions take over. I think that’s what happens,” Newton said.
To be fair to Newton, postgame interviews never feel good after a loss, especially when it’s the Super Bowl. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera was sympathetic to Newton. “What we’re asking people to do in a stressful situation after a very difficult situation is to gather our composure and step up right away,” Rivera said. “I’m not sure how fair that is. I’m really not. And he’s not the only player that’s ever been through a situation like that and handled it like that.” He had handled himself with composure after the game, and offered congratulations to the Broncos in a show of good sportsmanship. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning spoke glowingly about Newton in a Monday interview on The Today Show. “He was very nice to me, and I really appreciated that,” Manning said. “He’ll be back in that game, I can promise you. I’ve been on that side of it. It is tough, it is not an easy pill to swallow. But he was very nice to me and I really appreciated that.”
Still, Newton’s stoicism on the field, which some have noted was more than Manning showed following his own loss in Super Bowl XLIV against the New Orleans Saints, does not excuse his actions at the press conference. Newton’s position as the face of the Carolina Panthers demands that he sit there and take what the media gives him. Scott Fowler, a writer for The Charlotte Observer noted that Buffalo Bills kicker Scott Norwood had taken a full half hour of questioning after his missed field goal gave the New York Giants a 20–19 victory over the Bills. “That’s the way a pro does it,” Fowler wrote. “No one wants to answer questions after you just lost the biggest game of your life, but that’s part of why you are paid millions to play a kids’ game.”
Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders was not a fan of how Newton handled himself in the press conference. “You’re opening yourself for more criticism, because everybody is going to say you’re dabbing and smiling and smiling and styling,” Sanders said. “So this is how you go out when you lose?” Hall of Fame quarterback and ESPN analyst Steve Young had similar remarks about Newton. “ You’re the guy that’s going to be the face of the franchise, you’re the face of the NFL going forward, you were the dabber,” Young said. “This is the moment to actually show that resilience on the other side.”
It’s not as if Newton is incapable of giving positive responses to the media after a loss. Following the 20–13 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 27 that ended their strong hopes of a perfect season, Newton gave stoic and composed responses of how he was responsible for the loss, how his teammates played their hearts out, and how the Panthers would continue to win. Though the scale of the Super Bowl is much larger than one game against the Falcons, Newton still needs to compose himself with the patience expected from a quarterback who took his team from a losing season the year before to the Super Bowl. Newton needs time to recover from the biggest defeat of his career. If he truly learns from the whole experience, he will come back next season in full force as the leader his team needs.