Accepting defeat is the ultimate test of a leader. Being able to give credit when it’s due and acknowledging that you were defeated is a trait that one will need in order to be respected as a leader. These aspects are something that league MVP Cam Newton failed to do following the Panthers loss to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50, 24-10.
I found Newton’s actions after losing Super Bowl 50 as a learning opportunity. Newton showed numerous times his frustration with the media and with the play of the team on the field.
Newton and the Panthers had a tremendous season full of energetic and astonishing moments. None of his contributions this season should be overlooked, from his traditional touchdown dance – the “dab” – to his high-flying “Superman” touchdowns. While these are memorable moments, his actions off the field Sunday against the media might have outshined all of his good play on the field.
Forty-nine other quarterbacks sat in the same shoes as Newton did this Sunday. Hall of famers and soon-to-be-hall of famers like Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, John Elway, Jim Kelly and more have all faced the heartbreak. Every last one of those quarterbacks had to face the fact that after the great run their team had in the regular season in the playoffs, they still fell short of the ultimate prize.
Whether all of the losing quarterbacks liked it or not, they had to give credit that the other team outplayed them or ultimately took them out of their gameplans. This is something the young quarterback Cam Newton did not do.
Instead of giving credit to the spectacular play of Denver’s defense that night, Newton said that “there wasn’t nothing special they did.”
The Broncos’ defense was in the face of Newton all night and only allowed him to pass for 142 yards compared to Manning’s 315 passing yards. Denver’s defense also sacked Newton seven times in the game. Still, Newton gave no credit to the defensive shutdown that the Bronco defense put on the rising star.
“They did nothing spectacular,” Newton said. “For the record I’ve always been a sore loser.”
Comments like this can come across as very childish. Newton is a franchise quarterback. With a franchise placed firm upon your broad shoulders and six feet five inch frame, professionalism is needed out of you.
Losing is part of the game, everyone will have to face it at one point in their career. But making the loss worse by not acknowledging the great effort and execution of Denver’s defense is not something that people would like to hear from someone who just lost the biggest game of their career.
I was not completely mad at Newton for his comments about Denver’s play. What really rubbed me the wrong way was Newton’s actions at the press conference after the game. I am not calling him a coward for walking out on the media, but not being able to face them after you drew so much attention to yourself during the year made him look like a coward.
Newton was faced with adversity and he decided to avoid it in the most immature way by running away. If Newton matured like he tried to convince everyone this season, he would have faced those questions and let everyone know that Carolina was simply outplayed and that next year or the years to come, he would be back.
Newton in my eyes is still one of the best players in the NFL. But I cannot respect his actions during the press conference this Sunday. Many people will argue that a Denver player was yelling about how they contained Newton right next to where Newton was holding his own presser, but that still is no excuse to leave. If you cannot handle losing, then you have to humble yourself when you win. Having a brash attitude when you lose and a bossy attitude when you are winning is just unacceptable at that level of competition.