Two days after the biggest football loss of his life, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton still had no regrets about his handling of the post-game news conference.
After the 24-10 loss in Super Bowl 50, a downtrodden Newton appeared for less than 3 minutes in front of media, answered just one question with more than a few words and eventually got up and left the podium.
“We’ve got all these people who are condemning and saying, ‘Oh he should have done this, that and the third,’ but what makes your way right?” Newton said Tuesday at his locker in Bank of America Stadium.
“I’ve been on record to say I’m a sore loser. Who likes to lose? You show me a good loser and I’m going to show you a loser.”
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In his previous four seasons in the league, Newton has never talked to media during exit interviews. Tuesday he clearly had topics he wanted to address, and he answered questions for more than 7 minutes on the much-talked-about topics of his news conference and his failure to dive on a fumble late in the game.
“Well I ain’t got no more tears to cry,” Newton opened on his reflections from the Super Bowl. “I’ve had a lot of time to think about. I’ve seen so much blown out of proportion. At the end of the day when you invest so much time, when you sacrifice so much and things don’t go as planned, I think emotions take over. I think that’s what happens.”
Newton offered few words Sunday night after the loss. He appeared at a podium in the bowels of Levi’s Stadium in his game-worn pants and a black hoodie.
Newton, usually dapper in his post-game news conferences, put on the hoodie to expedite a process of getting ready that is among the longest in the league for star players.
With Denver cornerback Chris Harris Jr. excitedly answering questions about how the Broncos shut down Newton and Carolina’s passing game, Newton got up from the podium saying “I’m done” and went back to the locker room.
Not ‘other players’
Panthers coach Ron Rivera didn’t necessarily defend all of Newton’s post-game actions, but he did posit that players who especially don’t take well to losing should be given more time.
“What we’re asking people to do in a stressful situation after a very difficult situation is to gather our composure and step up right away,” Rivera said. “I’m not sure how fair that is. I’m really not. And he’s not the only player that’s ever been through a situation like that and handled it like that.”
Other players have handled it better. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw one of the biggest interceptions in Super Bowl history last week and faced the music. Denver’s Peyton Manning lost by 35 the year before and took his medicine, too.
Newton had heard those comparisons several times in the past two days and didn’t care for them.
“I’ve heard numerous quotes about, ‘What if this person was in this situation? How would he have handled it? Well we’ve seen this person do that, how would he have handled it?’ The truth of the matter is I’m not trying to be that person, nor am I trying to be that person,” Newton said. “I’ve said it since Day One. I am who I am. I know what I’m capable of, and I know where I’m going. I don’t have to conform to anybody else’s wants for me to do. I’m not that guy.
“If you want me to be this type of person, I’m not that. And I’m happy to say that. This league is a great league with or without me. And I am my own person. I take pride in that and that’s pretty much how I feel.”
Rivera addresses ‘sore loser’ balance
Asked if he and the team embrace Newton’s sore loser mentality, Rivera found a balance.
“Well I wouldn’t say we like it,” Rivera said. “We don’t want to promote it, most certainly there are a lot of young people that are out there looking at who we are. And we are role models for them.
“And I think again, I don’t want to say we accept it but we know who he is. He does take it hard. And quite honestly if he’s going to take it hard, then maybe, maybe, as a public service we can avoid having him talk right away.”
Ultimately, Rivera admitted he would have liked his quarterback to handle the situation better and differently.
But the coach also knows that’s who Newton is. He wears his emotion on his sleeve. It’s great when they’re winning and it’s bad when they’re losing.
If this was supposed to be a learning experience, though, Newton didn’t seem to absorb it. He said he had no regrets while standing at his locker.
“For me,” Newton said, “nothing’s pretty much going to change. You get what you get.”