By Will Stevenson
*Cam Newton’s press conference vibe reminds me of a confident man who is being questioned by the “good cop/bad cop” in the interrogation room, all the while knowing he has the money and power to have the trump charges dropped*
“You better get that look off your face!”
This was a phrase that was told to me by my parents after every time I was sad and sulking. It didn’t matter if I was getting punished, didn’t get what I wanted, or even if my favorite team lost, they always chastised me for having a sulking face. As I got older, I began to perfect the art of having a poker face. Just as in “Two Can Play That Game”, as Jamie Fox’s character attempts to show his counterpart how to “take the emotion out of your face”, I was able to do the same. For a while I even took pride in not showing my emotions in public. If I was being fired from a job, straight face. If a girl began her sentence with, “I think we need to talk” (back when that actually happened in person) straight face. I rarely showed an outward emotion until I became comfortable in my own skin. There came a point in my life in which I decided that my emotions were more important than saving face on your behalf. This opening took a bit long, but now I introduce Cam Newton.
Cam Newton isn’t outwardly pro-black. He’s always on the fence on social issues. He wears outfits that would have my man-card pulled. All in all, I still do not understand why the media is so infatuated on having him keep a straight face in his interviews. I understand during the interview and press conference process that the media has a job to do. I also understand the players have an obligation to the press to answer questions to the best of their ability. Time after time we hear others complain about how uninteresting athletes can be, especially those at the quarterback position. Most of these quarterbacks are boring, cliche driven, and spewing useless sentences that will never reverberate in the minds of anyone not paid to record them. When it comes to Cam Newton, he pretty much does the same; except when he’s losing. When he loses, he literally lets his emotions fly openly. He isn’t bashful, he isn’t apologetic, and he isn’t embarrassed to show the press how he is feeling. He just lost. It’s OK.
If Cam Newton were to decide to give a tirade after every loss, would that be OK? It would be stimulating and news worthy, but we would probably rip him for that too. We don’t like Cam Newton. We don’t like his arrogance, his dancing, his posing, his smiling. We don’t like him when he’s winning, nor do we like him when he’s losing. “He should be a pillar of professionalism even in defeat.” You know, that might be nice, but that’s on your sensibilities. We charge these athletes to act a certain way after these games, hoping they give us just a taste to run with. We expect them to stand up at that podium and give us everything we want. We own them. They are here for our entertainment and any time they do not entertain us, then we must criticize them for not doing so.
I have empathy for Cam Newton in this situation. The Panthers are 1-5 this season after last year’s 15-1 run that left them losing to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. Even with Josh Norman leaving in free agency, the addition of Kelvin Benjamin to the lineup was promising of a higher scoring offense. The offense has been its usual self, but it’s the defense that has fallen flat on their faces. Losing sucks, it always does. Well, losing doesn’t suck when you lose to a girl you let win to further gain points in the “game”. Nor does it suck when you let your kid win to boost their self-esteem. It does suck when you play professional football and you lose Sunday after Sunday and have to sit in a room, right after the game and attempt to explain why your team sucks. Never mind the fact he only plays one position, so there’s only so much he can control. Yes, these are called reasons, not excuses. Cam is expressing what many of us do when the cameras are on us in defeat, we hold it in and try our best not to say anything, because if we do it’s going to be trouble. I would actually like to thank Cam for his restraint. He’s not throwing he’s teammates under the bus, nor the coach.
We love to pick and choose who gets the right to do whatever they like to the media. Bill Belichek, Rex Ryan when he’s winning, Gregg Popovich, Phil Jackson when he’s winning, and even Mike Tomlin, but he’s already won and it’s the Steelers so he’s pretty safe. We always say, “Well quarterback ‘x’ doesn’t act that way, and Cam Newton is the leader of the team!” Holy bleep Sherlock, let the man live. Get back to Cam on Tuesday after practice and I’m sure he’ll feel the same way about the loss, and be ready to move on to the next week. I thought we love “spoiled brats” as some media members call him. We obviously love Trump, Bobby Knight, and other grumpy old men in the industry. Cam would rather sit back and reflect on these losses instead of speaking when there isn’t much positivity to speak on after a defeat.
But we don’t care about those things, we just want Came Newton to act accordingly. I don’t even think I need to go into the coded language of “Act professional”. We’re basically calling Cam a baby, even though he’s asked to take on the responsibility of winning and losing in a team sport. If Cam is as exuberant in winning, why wouldn’t he be “sulking” in defeat. Why wouldn’t he hate losing just as much as he loves winning? We’ll do anything we can to blame him because that’s just what we do.