The big story for sports media outlets in the week since the Super Bowl has been Cam Newton’s sulky post-game interview. The Carolina Panthers quarterback has been roundly criticized and ridiculed for abruptly walking out after two minutes of monosyllabic answers regarding his team’s 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos.
Newton, who appeared frustrated and disappointed with the outcome, later admitted that he is a sore loser, but feels that is nothing to be ashamed of. “We’ve got all these people that’s condemnin’ and sayin’ you should have done this, that and the third, but what makes your way right? I’ve been on record saying I’m a sore loser. Who likes to lose? You show me a good loser and I’m going to show you a loser,” he said to the media as he cleaned out his locker at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Newton’s comments on his actions focus on what all the articles, commentaries and blogs ignore: He aligned himself with the ordinary person who experiences failures from time to time.
The New York Times article entitled “Cam Newton, a Man of Many Talents, Falls Short on Leadership” sums up the media’s negative commentary on Newton. The article argues that Newton’s humiliation after the game was self-imposed and that he acted more like a 13-year-old than an NFL leader.
Newton’s actions have been cited as unsportsmanlike. Many of his critics used the post-game press conference as fodder to support their view that he has been arrogant and immature throughout the season.
The situation also prompted prominent figures in the football community to speak out about his actions on and off the field, and to compare him to Peyton Manning, quarterback for the Denver Broncos. Former NFL superstar Deion Sanders cited that “A (Peyton) Manning, a (Tom) Brady, all of those guys who have been prototypical guys would never do that,” referring to Newton’s emotional press-conference.
These criticisms began even before the game when Brian Urlacher, former Chicago Bears linebacker told USA Today that he’s not a fan of the way Newton celebrates his success on the field. Urlacher noted that he wished Newton would be more like Peyton Manning, widely lauded as a classy competitor.
The comparisons between Newton and Manning, however, are unfair. Numerous sports commentators and journalists argue that Manning is insulated from criticism even though there are serious allegations against him, allegations of conduct that is worse than unsportsmanlike.
Howard Bryant, senior editor for ESPN writes about the lack of interest in Manning’s involvement in a Title IX lawsuit against the University of Tennessee. The university has been accused of fostering a hostile work environment for women in 1996 when Manning allegedly placed his naked genitals on the face of a female athletic trainer. Al Jazeera also reported that Manning received shipments of human growth hormone (HGH), a performance enhancing drug, to speed up his recovery from injury. In Bryant’s article he says Manning is painted by the “NFL machine” as an untouchable role model, that the media essentially ignores allegations of sexual assault and use of performance enhancing drugs.
In contrast, several articles unfairly insinuate Newton was deserving of his criticisms because of his perceived arrogance.
Notwithstanding the widespread vitriol and criticism of Cam Newton, Manning politely commented “[I]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…” Despite the parallels and criticisms between the two elite quarterbacks it appears that Manning is avoiding ridiculing the young quarterback, seeing that he was in the same situation back in 2014 when the Broncos lost the Super Bowl to the Seattle Seahawks.
Newton on the other hand is not apologizing for his actions. In all honesty, he does not need to, he acted like any other person does when they face a loss or disappointment. Instead, he is focusing on the successful career he has ahead of him.