The Super Bowl has come and gone for the 50th time. Although I wasn't impressed very much by the game, it still had some interesting story lines. The main one is the story of one Cam Newton. The guy with the huge grin who terrorized defenses all season long.
Here is why I think that he's being treated unfairly, but how he brought it on himself:
Muhammad Ali was one of the biggest trash talkers of all-time back during his hey-day. What made him loved by few and hated by many is that he didn't mind telling you how good his was. He didn't have to worry about social media criticism. He came along decades before Facebook and Twitter. He didn't have to worry about the media that much because they idolized athletes during those days. The media would sometimes even protect an athlete by not disclosing certain stories rather than exposing them.
However, as good as Ali was, he got put on his tail quite a few times. He lost 5 bouts. But he never stopped talking about being The Greatest no matter how badly he lost.
Fast forward to 2016 and the atmosphere is completely different. The media waits to prey on athletes with "gotcha journalism". Athletes are subjected to fan scrutiny from social media and blogs like this one. TV stations have a 24 hour rotation of talking heads who tell us what should make us feel outraged and what shouldn't.
Enter Cam Newton into that environment. He has the bravado of Muhammad Ali, but at the moment appears to lack the resiliency.
Last night, when the game ended, he walked through the hoard of media types to shake hands with Peyton Manning to congratulate him. It was classy of him to do so, but I can't give him credit for it because that's what he's supposed to do. You don't get credit for things you should do anyway. However, his display of professionalism during that exchange is a lot more than Peyton Manning did in 2010.
Manning lost the Super Bowl in 2010 and didn't congratulate the winning quarterback (Drew Brees) on his team's victory. Instead, he walked to the locker room with a look of dejection. Completely classless and unprofessional, although you'd never know it because the media has its tongue inserted in Manning's butt cheeks on the regular. They refused to bad mouth him to the extent that they are with Cam Newton.
Cam has been blasted over the past 24 hours for walking out of a press conference before it was completed. He got tired of answering questions on why Carolina lost and he got tired of overhearing a nearby Bronco explaining how Carolina lost. So, he just got up and left.
Completely unprofessional, but not even remotely as big of a deal as Peyton Manning not shaking hands. However, unprofessional nonetheless.
But it's only a big deal because he made it one. He spent the entire season essentially saying "look at me!" His team destroyed their opponents throughout most of the season and Cam didn't have a problem celebrating that fact. He invited the pressure that he received going into the game last night. He said, and I'm paraphrasing, "if you want to stop me from dancing, stop me from scoring."
Denver was up for that challenge. Like Mike Tyson once said, "everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."
And Cam got punched early and often and he didn't know what to do. What was so easy for him all season long turned out to be the most difficult thing for him to do on the biggest stage there is. Cam didn't just get punched in the mouth, he got KO'd. And now all of the people who told him to "stop dancing and smiling" were dying to ask him questions on why he couldn't win the Big One.
That's rough. Anyone would have a difficult time getting through those 3 minutes of questions, but again, Cam invited this. He's been a champion on multiple levels and it never crossed his mind (nor should it have) that he could lose this game. But he did and he should have dealt with it better than what he did.
Someone on my Facebook said, "He's only 26. How was he supposed to handle it?"
Seriously? 26 years old is over halfway to 30. At what point do you consider a person to be grown? Geesh.
Someone else said, "Until you've lost a Super Bowl you wouldn't understand."
No, I've never lost a Super Bowl, but 40-something other quarterbacks have. I wonder how many of them walked out of press conferences?
Another said, "Cam's human. What is he supposed to do?"
True. He's human. He got caught in his feelings. But, let me drop this quote on you:
"Too bad they don't make Band-Aids for feelings."
Guess who said that? Cameron Jerrell Newton. I guess he need one for his last night.
Cam Newton is a lightning rod for media bias because of he is a black QB. Let's be honest there. That's a huge part of it. He invited even more scrutiny with his actions. I have no problem with that whatsoever. But he let the media and the haters win with his actions and that's why I'm disappointed.
I want Cam to get back out there and do his thing. I enjoy him giving footballs to the kids, the dancing, and Superman poses. Heck, I grew up in a culture of trash-talking. But you have to pay the piper when someone beats you. You don't have to give an eloquent speech after the biggest loss of your career, but you have to live up to your obligations. That's what makes you a "professional football player" and not just a "football player."
He could have said "no comment" for 3 minutes last night and I personally wouldn't have cared. But to walk away in the middle gave the haters and racists all of the ammunition that they needed.