<
>

Cam Newton showing heartache after Super Bowl loss isn't necessarily a bad thing

play
Wisdom in Cam Newton not saying anything (1:06)

Cris Carter and Trent Dilfer understand the emotional pain Cam Newton is feeling after losing the Super Bowl. While he might handle the news conference differently years later, they agree it was better for him to walk out than say something regrettable. (1:06)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton showed his personality all season with his dabbin' and dancing.

Many loved him for it. Some criticized him for it.

The 2015 league MVP showed his personality again after Sunday night's 24-10 loss to Denver in Super Bowl 50 with short answers and an abrupt exit from his postgame news conference.

It wasn't pretty. The player known for his infectious smile and designer attire answered seven questions with a frown and black hoodie pulled over his head.

It'll get Newton more criticism than love. But it was raw emotion, just like his dabbin'.

Newton hates to lose, and he wears that emotion on his sleeve as boldly as he wore those Versace zebra-print pants on the trip to California.

It's not the way Denver quarterback Peyton Manning would have handled the loss. But you can't contrast Newton with Manning any more for his postgame behavior than you can for their style -- on or off the field. They're different.

Manning is a dropback passer who typically says all the right things. Endorsers love him for it.

Newton is a dual-threat quarterback who can be outlandish and outspoken. He doesn't always say the right things, but endorsers still love him.

Manning himself said Newton was the future face of the NFL. That face just happened to be sadder than normal on this day.

But what makes Newton so special is his emotion; his passion makes him want to be the best.

You saw that during a Monday practice in training camp last summer at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, when Newton and cornerback Josh Norman came to blows. The two had been jawing at each other for two weeks. Then two plays into a team drill, Norman picked off a Newton pass and began returning it toward the end zone.

Newton did what most quarterbacks wouldn't dare and chased down Norman. When Norman gave his quarterback a stiff-arm, Newton retaliated.

"Hit me like that and I'll show you something," Newton yelled.

At the end of practice, after he had time to calm down, Newton broke down the team. He said one word: "family."

It was a poignant moment in this team's development.

Newton didn't have time to collect himself on Sunday night. He was rushed to the podium in well under the hour he normally takes to get ready for the media.

Newton had to feel like he let his family down on the biggest stage. He fumbled twice. Denver's defense recovered the first for a touchdown, and Manning & Co. turned the second into the clinching touchdown.

So Newton was hurting.

On Sunday night he let the world see that hurt, just as he has let the world see him have fun with the Dab. The emotion may be different, but in the end, it's still emotion.

In 24 hours, or a couple of days or weeks, Newton will feel differently. He'll be ready to talk about his family and all the good things accomplished this season.

What can't be lost in Newton's short answers is he remains the future of the organization. If the Panthers (17-2) are to return to the Super Bowl, it will be because of him, not in spite of him.

Newton showed during a 15-1 regular season in which he threw a career-high 35 touchdowns and ran for 10 more that he belongs among the elite quarterbacks. He showed he can take a group of average receivers to the Super Bowl.

"This can't turn into the 'What happened to the Cam Newton? show,' " tight end Greg Olsen said.

Olsen reminded that Carolina's lone touchdown was the result of Newton making two spectacular runs like few quarterbacks in the league can. He reminded that the team had four turnovers and 11 penalties and gave up six sacks. He reminded that the Panthers didn't take care of the "day one" stuff you learn in training camp.

"It was a collective letdown," Olsen said.

Newton just chose to show his letdown openly. He's being criticized for it, but he can't hide who he is after a win any more than he can after a loss.

You can tell him to grow up, but it's in part Newton's childlike behavior that makes him so polarizing.

The words you should pay closest attention to are the ones Newton said when asked what his message was to those he let down.

"We'll be back," he said.

And if the Panthers do, Newton will be leading the charge.