Apparently, Cam Newton doesn’t need a mind coach after all.
Days after the quarterback was reported to be seeing a sports psychologist, Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera said his second-year quarterback has mentally rebounded from the 36-7 loss that saw his lame-game sulking grab national headlines.
“It’s been very good. It really has,” Rivera said of Newton’s demeanor this week. “He was upset after the loss, he was upset on Friday but when he came in Monday at work he was ready to go. I think the thing he’s doing is working his way through those situations and the big thing is that he doesn’t let it affect the preparation for next week, and that’s probably the most important thing.”
Earlier in the week, ESPN reported that Newton had been working with a “mind coach” during the season to help him deal with losing and expectations during his second year. On Monday, Newton debunked the report and said he had not been seeing any type of sports psychologist.
Though his demeanor has taken a turn since last Thursday night, Newton didn’t back down from his abhorrence of losing.
“Who likes to lose? It’s a tide that’s turning in this city and it’s big expectations,” Newton said. “And when I say expectations I don’t mean saying to be pressured, but if everybody’s not mad about losing, it’s accepted. And I’m not, nor is anyone on this team, going to accept losing. So we go into each and every game expecting to win, having that mentality and wanting to win.
“And if that doesn’t happen, you’re not going to see many guys with jolly faces around here. So we’re just trying to compete, and that’s the key word in each and every game: Compete to win.”
Per his usual refrain, Newton refused to place more emphasis on Sunday’s game against the Falcons than any other. Carolina will enter the Georgia Dome losers of four straight in Atlanta, but the quarterback doesn’t believe the team has to turn anything around.
Execution, another popular term with Newton, is what the Panthers need in order to hand the Falcons their first loss of the season and allow Carolina to bounce back from an embarrassing defeat on national television.
In the closing minutes of that loss, Steve Smith approached Newton about his sideline behavior. He scolded the 23-year-old for not standing with teammates during the loss, opting instead to sit by himself on the bench with a towel over his head.
Rivera said earlier in the week he wished Smith had kept his talk with Newton in the locker room, and Smith said Wednesday he shouldn’t have spoken publicly about how he “lit into” Newton.
“I shouldn’t have said anything, so that really falls on me,” Smith said. “Hey, sometimes when you try to help, you do more harm than good.
Newton had yet to comment on his sideline discussion with Smith, but Wednesday he brushed it off simply as any other talk he has with his “big brother.”
“Obviously it’s a teaching moment, so for you to just single something out like that is kind of bogus for me. Because after this meeting he’s probably going to say something to me,” Newton said. “I look up to Smitty (Smith) as if he’s my big brother, and he has a very big impact on how I play and just having a mindset because he has done it and has lived it.
“I have much respect for Smitty, and yeah he talked to me after the game, but he talked to me the day after too, and will probably talk to me again today. It’s nothing like when Smitty talks to me it’s a big deal because I feel like I can call Smitty on any case—on the field or off the field.”
Smith agreed. The five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver welcomes the opportunity to teach fellow Pro Bowler Newton, and he believes their bond will only grow stronger.
“We’re good,” Smith said. “Hey, I look at him as a big (6-foot, 5-inch, 245 pound) little brother. You’re going to fight. You’re going to spat. But you’ll always be able to come back to it.
“We’ve talked pretty much every day since we became teammates. We talked this time last year and continue to talk… hopefully (like) we did (last) February, we’ll talk in Hawaii.”