The reigning NFL most valuable player certainly did not look so valuable in Super Bowl 50. From over throwing receivers, to fumbled hand-offs, and most importantly not going for the fumble late in the 4th quarter.
That image of Cam Newton awkwardly standing over his fumble will forever be the image of the Carolina Panthers quarterback – until he wins a Super Bowl. Newton should be criticized for not attacking that football. Down six points, with four minutes remaining, and the Super Bowl on the line, how can Newton get away with his lackluster effort on that specific play?
Cam has been smiling and dancing all season long and deservedly so. The Panthers went 15-1, and most of those wins were over by the 3rd quarter. Newton was, and still is, the leader of this Panther team. All season long, he instilled confidence in his teammates and forced them to believe they could win. The Panthers go as Newton goes.
Early in the Super Bowl, Newton took a vicious hit from Von Miller. Miller forced the fumble and Malik Jackson recovered the ball in the end zone to put the Broncos up 10-0. Newton hadn’t been hit like that all season and it certainly affected him.
After that hit, the smiling stopped, the dancing stopped, and for the most part, so did the effective quarterback play. When watching Cam Newton this season, the word front-runner came to mind. Newton’s instincts are why he can be the best player in the league and an all-time great quarterback.
The issue for Cam is his instincts let him down. In the moment where athleticism, strength, or speed is irrelevant, it comes down to heart and fight. When a ball is on the ground, everyone fights for it. I don’t believe Cam made a conscience decision to avoid the ball. The instincts of an athlete should take over. Newton choked. That specific moment was too big for the All Pro quarterback. He froze.
Why are people criticizing Newton for his post-game press conference? When the Colts lost to the Saints in the Super Bowl in 2009, Peyton Manning walked off the field early and avoided shaking hands with Drew Brees. Bill Belichick has worse press conferences than that. Newton admits he is a sore loser. Manning doesn’t receive any criticism while Newton gets ridiculed?
Newton, Russell Wilson, Jameis Winston and Andrew Luck are the future of the league and this game doesn’t change that. What Newton did this season, without Kelvin Benjamin, was simply phenomenal. The smiling, dancing, and laughing are all assets that make people love Cam. It’s what separates him from other top end quarterbacks. Cam is cocky and he deserves to be.
We all know Cam is good enough to win. The only question remaining is, will he? Cam has all the physical ability to win championships and be a great quarterback. Will he become everything his talent allows or another talented underachiever? I don’t think Cam can be called a loser, but, we can’t call him a winner. Yet.