At this point, nothing needs to be recapped about what happened after last night’s Super Bowl. None of it should have come as a shock, either. Cam, like most athletes, really hates losing. On the flip side, sportswriters really love talking to athletes who just lost. For some, it’s the opportunity to reach athletes when they’re most vulnerable. For others, it gets them off to see larger-than-life idols forced to be humbled by becoming the same sorry failures “normal people” see in themselves. Those people were about to have their Super Bowl. The mighty Cam Newton was going to have to sit and take it, until he decided he wasn’t going to do that. It was predictable, it was childish, and to be completely honest, incredibly reassuring for Panther fans.
If you thought Cam was going to be humble, you played yourself. That’s not Cam. In fact, had Cam taken the podium with an opening statement expressing his disappointment in the loss, congratulating his competitors, promising to come back even better, and spouting off any other cliches other quarterbacks pluck from Bing searches to use in post-game interviews, it would be a safe bet that we’d never see Cam in another Super Bowl.
The “if you don’t like me dancing, don’t let me score” mentality works both ways, and it was again quite obvious that Cam lacks the ability to process defeat. If he doesn’t like dealing with questions after a loss, then don’t lose. And he’s probably not going to lose all that often moving forward because of that mentality. Lack of leadership? That is leadership. At least it’s Cam’s version of it, and the consistency is admirable. He is going to spend no time thinking about how to handle losing better because, in his mind, he’s never going to lose again.
The personality of this Panthers team drew everyone in this season. You either loved them, or you hated them, and both opinions were entirely acceptable and understandable. That must continue in order to be successful. The team is in real trouble if the first touchdown next year ends with Cam handing the ball to the back judge and jogging back to the sideline. The Panthers played tight twice this past season: first in Atlanta, coming off of the New York Giants game where there was incredible external pressure to reel in their personalty, and again in the Super Bowl, where there’s such an inescapable myth that you have to respect the magnitude of the game. For Carolina to make it back to the Super Bowl, the fun has to be there.
Be prepared, though. You think the hot takes are bad today? Just wait until the first time we see a first down celebration next year. The inevitable “Cam learned nothing from the Super Bowl” takes will be so vicious they’ll make today seem like constructive criticism. In reality, Cam learned plenty from the Super Bowl. He learned again how much it sucks to lose. Here’s to hoping he never matures enough to handle it with grace.