The league’s MVP has been widely criticized for walking out of a three-minute press conference after a 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday in which he answered questions with mostly one- and two-word responses while sulking in his chair wearing a black Carolina Panthers hoodie over his head.
“Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser,” Newton said Tuesday as players cleaned out their lockers at the team’s downtown stadium.
The quarterback went on to say, “Who are you to say that your way is right? I have all of these people who are condemning and saying this, that and the third, but what makes your way right?”
At one point during Newton’s nearly seven-minute interview, his teammates walked behind the media gathered three-deep around his locker and starting saying, “We love you, Cam,” and even sang him a song lightning the mood.
Newton said his emotions were raw after the game and he simply didn’t want to talk to the media.
“When you invest so much time and sacrifice so much and things don’t go as planned, I think emotions take over,” Newton said. “I think that is what happens.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said while he prefers his fifth-year quarterback would have handled the situation a little better, he understands where he is coming from and what he felt at the time.
“That’s who he is. He hates to lose, that’s the bottom line,” Rivera said. “That is what you love in him. I would much rather have a guy who hates to lose than a guy who accepts it. The guy who accepts it, you might as well just push him out of your locker room because you don’t want him around.
“That is a beauty of a guy like that — he wants to win and his teammates know it. That is what it is about. We don’t play this game for a participation trophy. We want to win.”
Newton takes losing harder than most.
In some past Carolina defeats, he’s sat distraught at his locker still in his uniform for more than 30 minutes after the conclusion of the game. There are times it has taken him more than an hour before addressing the media.
Because this was the Super Bowl, Newton was forced into the interview room a little sooner than normal.
At one point, his attention appeared to drift to listening to Broncos players who were celebrating and talking about their win on the other side of the interview room.
Rivera suggested in the future Newton may need more time before addressing the media to get his emotions in check.
“There are a lot of young people out there looking at who we are, and we are role models for them,” Rivera said. “I think again we know who he is and he does take it hard. Quite honestly if he is going to take it hard, as a public service, we should avoid having him talk right away. People take losses, not just football losses, but personal losses different ways. Time is probably the best thing.”
Teammates rallied behind Newton on Tuesday.
They said they know how badly he wanted to win and how hard he takes losing games.
“He’s a competitor just like everybody else,” fullback Mike Tolbert said. “He’s not happy at all about what happened. I’m not happy about what happened. I think everyone on our team is not happy, so why should we be all smiles after? I can’t expect anybody to be laughing and joking and ecstatic about losing a football game.”
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman refused to criticize his franchise quarterback for the way he acted after the game.
“I want players that hate to lose,” Gettleman said. “I want players that I know when the game is over they are crawling into the locker room and they need help getting their gear off and they are going to need time getting into the shower. I want the buses to be late to the airport if we’re traveling. We all handle defeat differently.”
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