Show a bad attitude and some immaturity once and it can be written off, especially if it comes moments after losing the Super Bowl. Some people aren’t going to be happy about it, but they’re going to understand frustration after a tough loss.
Show a bad attitude and some immaturity more than once and it’s not going to be written off. It becomes part of an unflattering reputation that can permanently damage a reputation.
That’s the territory Carolina quarterback Cam Newton entered after Sunday’s loss to New Orleans. In the past, Newton has shown he’s one of the league’s most gregarious winners. On Sunday, Newton showed he’s one of the league’s worst losers.
Writers and broadcasters had to wait more than an hour as Newton showered and dressed. When he finally showed for his post-game press conference his attitude was bad. He gave short answers and cut the conference off after 90 seconds.
This is not the kind of behavior you want from the face of your franchise, who otherwise has a good reputation. This is not the look or actions you would expect from the league’s reigning Most Valuable Player. And it certainly isn’t what you want from a team leader, who has been with the Panthers since 2011.
Newton has said many times that if you show him a good loser, he’ll show you a loser. I get his point. Every quarterback – really, every player – should despise losing. But there are proper ways to handle it.
“I didn’t want to talk to the media after a loss,’’ former Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme told ESPN. “It’s the last thing you want. It’s the most disheartening thing in the world.’’
No argument here. But it’s how you handle talking to the media after a loss that matters.
I covered Delhomme when he played for Carolina from 2003 through 2009. That meant dozens of press conferences. You could always tell from the conference if Delhomme had won or lost. A cheery mood meant the Panthers had won. A down mood meant the Panthers had lost. But, through it all, Delhomme never pouted. He came out and faced the music. His answers were respectful and thorough. More than anything, Delhomme always acted like a professional and a team leader.
Newton doesn’t do that and he’s getting a bad reputation because of it. Delhomme offered some advice that Newton would be wise to follow.
“It’s just that I would like for him to – if I could tell him so – don’t add that extra little nagging, sibling (attitude). You just bring a little more aggravation at your next press conference.’’
Others have offered similar advice, but Newton isn’t following it. Remember the aftermath of last season’s Super Bowl? Newton showed up for the post-game press conference pouty. He was short on words and cut the conference off after about two minutes.
We’ll give Newton a pass on that one. He had just lost the Super Bowl, perhaps the only one he’ll ever get to. His booth was set up right by one of the Denver players and Newton could hear that player bragging how the Broncos defense had shut down the Carolina offense.
That little incident was one of the biggest storylines of the Super Bowl. But, in the months that followed, Newton admitted he needed to stop wearing his emotions on his sleeve. That sounded like a great idea at the time, but Newton isn’t following through on that pledge.
What happened in New Orleans was even uglier than what happened at the Super Bowl. Newton showed he still is immature and a bad loser.
That needs to change quickly, before it becomes part of Newton’s fabric.
It’s fine to be disappointed after a loss. You don’t have to be gregarious, people will understand. But you have to bite the bullet and at least act like a professional.