Late Sunday night, I was heavily involved in my typical routine, glued to SportsCenter when a presser(press conference for those of you who are not hip to the media terms) came on. It was of Cam Newton after their loss to the Cowboys. I immediately stopped what I was doing because I wanted to see how Newton would handle this presser. When it was over I was, once again, left with a feeling of concern as I watched Newton sulk while he discussed what went wrong earlier on the field. You know that PR major in me was eyes wide open thinking, “if only I could get a hold of him…”
Cam Newton does not like to lose. I am not sure I have met a person who does. I know I do not like it! Ever seen me after I lose in Connect Four? Not always a pleasant sight. Who really enjoys losing? The winner? In a reverse psychology warped kind of way, I guess a winner could take pleasure in another’s loss but that person won so….you get my point. A true competitor wants to compete at the highest level when it is showtime. A true competitor wants to win every time, so it is not a concern of mine that Cam Newton is not happy about losing. What I am concerned about is the way he handles losing, publicly. When I watch Cam Newton’s pressers I see a young man consumed with the guilt and agony of losing. I see a young man who has rarely experienced losses on the football field struggling to grasp the reality of what many of his fellow colleagues have already experienced. I see a young man who wants to win, knows how to win but has not figured out how to make that happen on a consistent basis.
Apparently what I see and what other journalists see is totally different. For weeks, I have heard journalists, commentators and the Couch QB’s bash Cam Newton for what he has and has not done. I refuse to be on one of those people. Some journalists are quick to turn on you when things are not going well. I think they have forgotten Peyton Manning went 3-13 and 6-10 in his first two seasons. I digress. Let me get back on track. These same journalists and commentators who were singing soprano praises for Cam Newton last year are now saying that something is wrong with him and I even heard one say he is starting to believe he may never see the Cam Newton we saw last year, again. *raises hand* Wait, are we talking about last year’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year? Are we talking about the NFL record holder for most passing yards EVER by a rookie? Are we talking about the NFL single season record holder for most rushing TD’s EVER by a QB in a season? Are we talking about the former Auburn QB who led the Tigers to an undefeated season, a national championship and scooped up the Heisman Trophy along the way? Are we talking about the former Blinn College QB who led them to the NJCAA Championship in 2009? That guy? That is who we are talking about? You have got to be kidding me. The same abilities and talents that propelled him to do these things are still there. Did you see him shaking and baking the Cowboys on Sunday? Did you see him threading tight spirals to Brandon LaFell in the middle of the field? If you did then there is no way you would be questioning if he still has “it.” Somebody has been sniffing too many Sharpies.
His abilities should never be in question but I can admit when something is off. What we should be concerned with is his state of mind. From the outside looking in, one has to wonder what type of mental and emotional support the Panthers are providing for their franchise QB. Remember, this is a 23 year old man we are talking about. At 23 years old, a lot of men and women struggle as thy search for their identity and purpose in this world. Add an international spotlight to the mix and you have a recipe for a potential disaster, if the right pieces are not in place.
Maybe he has someone in his life who not only tells him it is ok to be disappointed in losing but sets an example for him to follow. Maybe he has someone to tell him that his body language and non-verbal cues during pressers have a major impact on how the public views him. Maybe he has someone to tell that he needs to be mindful of his brand at all times. It is hard to build your brand back up once the foundation has been shaken. Maybe he has someone to tell him that as QB, you are expected to eventually be the leader of the team, no matter how young you are. Maybe has has someone to tell him that “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Maybe has has someone to tell him these things. Maybe he does not. Hopefully he does and if he does not, I hope someone comes along quick who is truly concerned about him as a whole. Maybe I need to take a trip down 85…..
Until next time…TOODELLS.