Monday, February 8, 2016

Is Cam Newton's history's greatest monster for not putting on a happy face after Super Bowl 50?

Shocker: I wear my heart on my sleeve. As Squawker Jon would say, all you need to do if you know me in real life to sense my mood is to look at my face! I can't hide my emotions, whether happy or sad or angry. So I have great empathy for other people who also wear their heart on their sleeve. Especially when they are professional athletes. Thus, my affinity for Cam Newton.

In addition, pretty much nothing makes me happier than when I have something to crusade about -- especially when it goes against conventional wisdom. And especially when it involves sports. Call me the president of the "He's Not Bad, He's Just Misunderstood" school of athletes. After all, so much of our perceptions of sports stars are based on what the media tells us. And the journalists have their own biases and agendas. (As do I, but at least I'm up front about them!)

So I have to admit to rubbing my hands with glee this afternoon, ready to take on the post-Super Bowl Cam Newton controversy! I did feel bad for Newton after his and the Carolina Panthers' ignominious defeat in Super Bowl 50. Think about the worst defeat of your life -- getting dumped, getting fired, getting humiliated -- only in front of hundreds of millions. Oh, and having to talk about your feelings just 30 minutes later, and answer question after question on it. And if you don't act like a phony, and put on a happy face, people will call you a sore loser. Come to think of it, if you do put on a happy face, then people will think you don't care. (Ask Jay Cutler about that!)

True, that's what athletes get the big bucks for, but let's not forget that they are human, too. And although I do think Newton should have stayed longer at his postgame press conference, just because these reporters get mad if they don't all get to ask questions, I can understand the way the Panther felt. Heck, I was miserable myself after the game, and I'm just a fan on the couch! I can also get the notion of walking away before saying something you regret. I have also had to do that a time or two in my life!

What kills me, though, is the way the media acts like Newton's some sort of phony now. Wow, somebody who gets excited and jubilant during good times looks completely miserable during adversity. Shocking, I know! What, did we expect stoicism? Especially given that Newton could hear Denver player Chris Harris over the partition of Newton's own presser talking about beating him. (Thanks to my friend Brent for the tip on that video!)

As Scott Gustin of Tribune Broadcasting aptly put it, Newton acted like one of us fans would:
You scream at your team, tear off your jersey and threaten a kicker over a missed field goal. Cam dabs when he scores touchdowns, collapses on the sideline when his team loses and is unable to put on a happy face immediately after a devastating loss. He has highs and lows, just like you. And like all fanatics, his highs are the highest and his lows are the lowest.
One of the many writers who criticized Newton was Chris Chase of Fox Sports. Chase insinuated Newton was a fake because he was so unhappy talking after the loss. "That laughing, smiling, carefree quarterback we've watched all season?" Chase wrote. "Evidently he was just an act, a byproduct of an undefeated record and an easy schedule." He also called the QB "childish, sulking" and "petulant."

Then Chase says that Newton should have...pretended not to be so miserable, even though he acknowledged that the QB's "attitude, while untoward, is the kind a fallen champion needs to get back up off the mat." But Chase thinks he should have faked it:
"No one expected much from him, the same way they don't expect much from any losing quarterback. Put on some clothes, walk out, answer some stupid questions by expounding on the concept of 'we played hard but they played better' and then get out of there. He could have been in front of reporters for the same three minutes, but if he had given real answers, looked them in the eyes and didn't act like it was the greatest burden of his life to be sitting there at that exact moment, he wouldn't have the PR disaster that's currently befalling him."
Funny thing is, though. Chase had no problem when another quarterback was miserable after a big loss. When Peyton Manning lost to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV, and left the field without shaking Brees' hand (let it be noted that Newton congratulated Manning and shook his hand), Chase wrote the following:
"Walking off the field without congratulating Drew Brees may go against our misguided notion of what sportsmanship should be, but it wasn't at all disrespectful or bitter. It shows how much Peyton Manning wanted to win the game. And who can argue about that?"
Chase also wrote then that "the great ones make their job their passion. Hall of Fames don't tend to include guys who can't care. The desire to win is what sustains greatness." He also said then, "The great ones are competitors and competitors can't flip a switch immediately after a devastating loss and act like it didn't matter." You mean like how Cam Newton looked like this after losing Super Bowl 50? Just saying!

Give me Newton's real reaction over the most devastating loss of his career -- even if he looked like a hot mess up there -- over Peyton Manning's promoting binge drinking Budweiser (!) twice after the game. Here's what the legendary QB said when asked by CBS' Tracy Wolfson if he were going to retire:
"I’ll take some time to reflect. I’ve got a couple of priorities first. I want to go kiss my wife and my kids. I want to go hug my family. I’m going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight, Tracy, I promise you that."
Yes, folks, those are Peyton's priorities:

1) Kissing his wife and kids
2) Hugging his family
3) Drinking a lot of Budweiser

And Cam Newton is the bad role model here, according to the media, and some of the fans out there?

Manning, who also mentioned Budweiser while on the podium after the game, and on TV the next morning, just happens to have an ownership stake in two Anheuser-Busch distributorships in Louisiana. So that was about as calculated a mention as the way he was shown drinking Gatorade in the locker room (with a ton of bottles around him) when he was introduced as a Super Bowl MVP during that pre-game ceremony.

And really, let's face it. You're a millionaire many times over. You just won the Super Bowl. And with all of the great craft brews out there, you're going to drink Budweiser? That's about as tasteless as kissing Papa John on the field after the game!

Can you imagine if Newton had won the Super Bowl and done what Manning did? Do you think it might have been a little controversial? I sure do. I also think that if Manning had lost, and had the same reaction as Newton did, the media would be talking about much he cares. You know, the way Chris Chase did in the quotes I posted above. Shocking, I know!

Anyhow, I know I'm biased in favor of Newton. I am honest about that. If only the media would admit to their bias against Newton, and in favor of Manning.

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