by Julian Spivey
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has all of a sudden turned into the most controversial player in the NFL, despite the fact that little of the reasoning for people disliking him is worthwhile, at least that was the case prior to Super Bowl 50.
Many people seem to find him too arrogant and brash and they say he celebrates too much and for that reason they can’t stand the 26-year old superstar who ran away with the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award this season while leading his team to a 15-1 regular season and a trip to the Super Bowl.
But, while I think most of the dislike and really hatred that is pointed Newton’s way is ridiculous and frankly bullshit I do have to admit he somewhat lived up to those people’s expectations of him both during and particularly after the Panthers Super Bowl 50 loss at the hands of the Denver Broncos on Sunday night.
Newton’s performance was so bad during Super Bowl 50 that it felt like the league might need to discuss whether or not to revoke the MVP honor they had bestowed upon him the night before (in reality it’s a regular season honor and no one was more deserving than Newton). But, we’ve seen the Broncos defense – the best in the NFL this season – do this to all-time great QBs recently as they did to Tom Brady and his New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game two weeks prior.
Some felt Newton and the Panthers highest scoring offense in the NFL would be better and easily handle the Broncos’ defense, but that old adage about defense winning big games turned out to be true one more time.
It was an ugly Super Bowl all-around, but the Broncos’ defense essentially single-handedly brought the title home to Denver because the Panthers offense couldn’t do a single thing right against them.
The point where I gave up any chance of the Panthers winning the game was seemingly the same exact moment when Newton did, as well. On third down with his team trailing by only six points late in the fourth quarter Newton fumbled the ball when rushed, as he had been all game long, by the Broncos. Newton was the most likely candidate to jump on the ball and recover, which would have given the Panthers a shot on fourth down at survival, but for some reason Newton actually backed away from recovering the ball, as if he didn’t want to risk injury. He had teammates Thomas Davis and Jared Allen playing with a broken arm and broken foot respectively, but Newton wouldn’t even lay out for a fumble recovery. It was odd, to say the least, and instantly had Super Bowl winning quarterback and CBS announcer Phil Simms calling him out.
The Broncos added an easy touchdown and 2-pt. conversion to go up by two touchdowns and that was that.
But, what Newton did that really got under the skin of many and in the minds of his haters proved a big point was when he walked out of his postgame news conference after half-heartedly answering only a few questions.
The transcript of the news conference can be seen HERE.
It’s completely understandable for an athlete to be heartbroken and upset after losing the biggest game of their lives, but you still have to show some professionalism, humility and class. Newton’s attitude during the press conference and his quick exit shows that he might currently be the best player in the league, but he still has some major maturation in front of him. If there’s a next time he might even want to take a longer cooling off period before stepping in front of the mic. Some have brought up the fact that it’s taken Tom Brady as long as 45 minutes to take questions after a big loss. Maybe Newton could’ve benefited from more time between leaving the field and being questioned.
Joe Person, who is a Panthers beat writer for The Charlotte Observer tweeted after Newton’s presser: “Someone said this about Cam recently: ‘He is the world’s best winner and the world’s worst loser.’ Tonight showed that again.”
I’ve never seen a star player of a losing team act this unprofessional following a championship loss. I’ve been critical of those bashing Newton for the better part of the last two weeks, because I’m not sure what their motives truly are for disliking him – but after tonight’s performance both on and off the field I can see how they might have some reasons to doubt his professionalism.
Many have said this season that Newton is the future face of the NFL. The NFL might not be too happy with that at the moment as he’s more likely now to be the villain of the league, rather than the face of it. It’s completely up to him going forward which option he chooses.
by Julian Spivey
Super Bowl 50 this Sunday (Feb. 7) has the NFL excited as the supremely popular Denver Broncos, led by likely the NFL’s most popular player Peyton Manning, in likely his final NFL game, are up against the incredibly exciting Carolina Panthers. The game seems to have everybody talking, though some fear it won’t be all that close with the way the Panthers manhandled the NFL this year going 15-1 and the way Manning’s QB play has regressed over the last two seasons. The Panthers had the best offense in the game this season when it comes to points per game and the Broncos statistically had the best defense in the league – which sets Super Bowl 50 up for a potential classic, despite Vegas odds having the Panthers as an almost touchdown favorite.
Here is a little breakdown over which teams have the advantages at what positions:
Peyton Manning may be one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, but this is the one facet of the big game on Sunday that shouldn’t even be close. Manning is simply a shell of his former self at this point (it’s ironic that in his worst season he’s in a Super Bowl, after he missed it in so many of his best seasons) and Cam Newton probably ran away with the league MVP this season. Newton is a dual threat both with his arms and his legs, whereas Manning can barely throw or even stand these days. A superhero finale from Manning honestly wouldn’t surprise me, but Newton is the QB to beat in the NFL right now.
The Broncos may have some bigger names on offense with receivers like Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, but the Panthers were the highest scoring team in the league this season averaging 31.3 points per game. The Panthers also had the second best rushing team in the NFL this season averaging 142.6 yards per game on the ground. The QB advantage, as previously mentioned, goes to Newton and while the offenses after that are rather close it goes a long way in giving Carolina the edge and best shot at winning its first title in franchise history.
The Denver Broncos statistically had the best defense in the NFL this season, so they obviously have the advantage here. In fact, the Broncos terrific defense is the only reason I don’t think this Super Bowl is a lock for the Panthers. They say defense wins the big games, so I could even see the Broncos shutting down the high scoring offense of the Panthers, much like they did with the New England Patriots two weeks ago in the AFC Championship game. But, here is the thing, the Panthers have a pretty good defense too – allowing the sixth fewest points per game this season and sixth fewest opponent yards per game, as well. The issue with the Panthers defense though is some of its key players are severely hurt. Defensive back Charles “Peanut” Tillman tore his ACL in the final game of the season forcing him to miss the playoffs and during their playoff run veteran stars Jared Allen and Thomas Davis have each badly injured themselves with Allen breaking a bone in his foot and Davis breaking his arm. Despite those injuries both Allen and Davis, the true leader of the defense, are hoping to play in the big game.
I think Super Bowl 50 will be a little closer than a lot of people are prognosticating, but I still believe the Panthers are the team to beat – largely because I just don’t know that Peyton Manning has enough left in his arm to overcome a good defense and a high scoring offense. The NFL would love nothing more than to have a storybook ending in its milestone 50th Super Bowl, though, so the storyline is frankly set for Manning to ride off into the sunset a champion. I just think he ends his career a measly 1-3 on the game’s biggest stage.
My prediction: Panthers 24, Broncos 21