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Cam Newton Responds to Super Bowl Criticism

Cam Newton quoted Vince Lombardi in responding to his critics.

by Sean Newell
Feb 9 2016, 4:59pm

On Tuesday, Cam Newton stood before an assembled press corps and answered some of the questions he did not answer immediately following Sunday's loss in Super Bowl 50. He also answered some questions generated by his early exit that night. Cam was asked why he didn't dive on the ball after the fumble late in the fourth quarter that all but sealed the game. He was also asked about being a sore loser.

That's a Vince Lombardi quote. You may have seen his mug flash across your screen at some point during the run-up to Super Bowl 50. To paraphrase the Trophy somewhat less artfully: losing sucks, and the only thing that matters is winning. That's the rock and the hard place players like Cam find themselves caught between. You should be a psychopathic warrior consumed by nothing but victory on the field, but five minutes later you better be smiling for the cameras, especially if you lose.

What about the fumble, when it looked like he could have jumped on the ball to maintain possession in the last four minutes?

It was definitely an awkward situation he was in, the ball was right under his foot and several players were lunging for it. Maybe he froze, maybe he was concerned about injury, or that the chances of securing it were less than his chance of getting injured. He did wind up diving into that scrum, though, albeit late. It certainly looked bad for those want it to look bad, and it's sort of defensible for those who want to defend it.

Cam's answers on the fumble are more argumentative than his response to the press conference issue, but there is some truth to the point about the expectations on quarterbacks. If a quarterback does anything that doesn't involve throwing the ball it is generally treated as an amazing event. A quarterback who makes an awkward attempt at blocking someone (read: gets in the way) usually draws high praise from the broadcast booth.

The bar is very low for what regular quarterbacks do outside of steering the offense, but Phil Simms was quick to pounce on Cam for not diving into the middle of a pile. It's Cam Newton, so it probably would have happened anyway, but at that moment, with 115 million people watching, that informed the conversation right then and there. Cam is also not a regular quarterback, and gets heavy praise for it, and with that comes different expectations, so comparing him to any quarterback might be unfair.

But he is right: the Panthers didn't lose because he didn't fall on a fumble that squirted all over the place. They lost because the Broncos defense made him look like a regular quarterback.

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