Monday, February 8, 2016

'Superman' Cam Has A Lot Of Growing Up To Do

Super Bowl 50 - Carolina Panthers v Denver Broncos
'Starboy' Cam Newton sulks in a presser after the game - he then walked out.

In Barbados, the 'starboy' is the name used for the lead hero, the valiant male lead star - say in a Kung Fu film- or the invulnerable athlete who displays no weaknesses. For any given cinematic or sport venue it is always the starboy who will garner the biggest draw, the biggest, most excited crowds. 

Here in this country, in the 2 weeks leading up to Super  Bowl 50,  it was Cam Newton who fulfilled that role, evoking an aura of invincibility - especially after the beat down of the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship game. In that game Cardinal QB Carson Palmer was made to look like a total loser while Cam Newton emerged an undisputed winner and consummate dabber. He shone in the spotlight, and one perceived he believed that being the winner, the conqueror,  was his forte - his calling.

But alas, as seen in a post game presser last night - maybe in losing not so much. The problem is that in the NFL players are expected to fulfill a media interactions role, win or lose. If you end up a champ like Peyton Manning or Denver LB  (and SB MVP) Von Miller,  you are expected to appear before the cameras and still answer questions. And if you happen to lose, like Tom Brady did 2 weeks ago to Denver, or Cam Newton did last night in SB 50, you are expected to man up and answer questions.  Never mind the trivial and hackneyed stage which entices more formulaic replies even from the game's heroes.

Brady fulfilled the role admirably showing his maturity and grace even in a loss. Cam acted like a petulant child, a morose, sullen bratskie who'd just had his all day sucker taken away. He didn't even face the media but mostly looked away, nursing the realization his superman aura had been punctured and he was now exposed as a sore loser. (Before the game began one could see him "pompasetting" - another Bajan term  - in a Superman sweatshirt.) Newton made no pretense of the fact he believed he was special and would demonstrate that in the game.

Trouble is, he didn't. In play after play it was the Broncos' pass rush and ferocity that reduced him to a very ordinary mortal. No TDs, not one, for the entire game. But a lot of wild throws and inadvisable decisions.  The result was a decisive 24-10 Denver victory.

After the game when asked what happened, the best Cam could manage was: "They made more plays. They played better. What ya want me to say?"

Well, more than that! Talk about your decisions, including the one that ended in an interception near the end. Tell us why when the game was on the line with three plus minutes left and you fumbled the ball and a recovery was critical  - but you backed away from any effort to do so. As Phil Simms put it, did you not feel getting the ball back was worth any risk to yourself? Say as opposed to  allowing the Denver D's recovery,  which then resulted in Denver's final 8 points?

The last showed a cowardly decision that no real, 'Superman' QB would make, not with the Superbowl on the line. Any real QB -whether Ken Stabler, Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, or Aaron Rodgers- would have dove in that pile to try to get the ball back.

See, having made the decision not to try at the most critical moment at the end, you don't get to pout now in the presser. You don't get to act petulant and entitled for being denied the championship - because it was YOU that directly contributed to that outcome.

A real man would have admitted his lapses to the media hawks, not run away after less than five minutes without saying another word.

It doesn't take much manliness to do a 'dab' at the end of a blowout game. It does take a hell of a lot of guts to address your shortcomings after you've just lost the biggest game of the season,  rendering the Panthers'  otherwise sterling 17-2 record little more than an afterthought.

Hopefully, Cam Newton will spend the off season studying his reactions in that presser and work to get his act together, as opposed to how to refine his dabbing technique.

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