Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cam damage from interview? Slight, avoidable

Cam Newton has made very few false steps in his rookie season, but he took one in a videotaped interview with ESPN The Magazine that has caused a lot of comment in the Carolinas.

Newton said during the interview of the Panthers’ organization: “The house that I’m in is somewhat of a tarnished house where losing is accepted.”

And he also said some teammates don’t take losses seriously enough. Newton is known for taking losses particularly hard – the Panthers are 4-8 at the moment. He has sometimes isolated himself from teammates – and everyone else – for a relatively long time after games and once snapped at tight end Greg Olsen when Olsen was trying to console him following a defeat.

I thought most of what Newton said in his interview was just fine. And a “want-to-win-so-bad-it-hurts” demeanor, let’s remember, is part of what got Michael Jordan to where he ended up.

But occasionally what Newton said struck me as odd. Newton’s analogy in the interview where he said he was a “lion” that someone was trying to make a “house pet” was just downright confusing. And then he sounded for a second like he would consider leaving the Panthers – where he is in the first year of a four-year, $22-million contract -- before backtracking.

“But I’m trying to change that [losing attitude],” Newton said at one point, continuing his lion analogy, “if I’m going to have to turn that house into a safari [where a lion could thrive, presumably] or I’m just going to have to get out of that house. Now I’m not saying – hear me out, what I’m saying now – I’m not saying I’m trying to leave this place, I’m just trying to get everybody on my level.”

As a player, that’d be a great thing. If everyone was on Newton’s level, the Panthers would be headed to the playoffs.

In other ways, though, it’s not such a great thing. Newton is 22 years old and sometimes he sounds a lot like it. This interview was one of those times.

As for Panther fans suddenly panicked that Newton will leave, don’t be. He’s not going anywhere at least through the 2014 season, when his original rookie contract runs out. And he’s so good the Panthers will break the bank to keep him after that – or, alternately, use their franchise tag to make sure he stays in Charlotte for many more years to come.

Bottom line: this interview wasn’t Newton’s best work. But while the damage was avoidable, it was also slight -- and will be forgotten before long.

(UPDATE: I had to disable the ability to post comments to this blog on Friday, Dec.9th -- sorry. As is too often the case on any Cam Newton-related blog, after awhile too many of the comments deteriorated into a bunch of cursing and name-calling. I left up the comments that weren't out-and-out obscene. If you feel strongly that you want to express your opinion on this post to me, please feel free to email me at sfowler@charlotteobserver.com.)

32 comments:

Michael Bacon said...

Should we call Cam Nuke Laloosh from now on?

Anonymous said...

I watched the interview, you're digging way too deep in his comments. He wants to win and wants to rub some of his not accepting a loss attitude off on his teammates. He may have taken a trek down the "lion" path where he couldn't back out of, but hey...we all want the team to win. I don't think any of his teammates are going to think badly towards this unless the media spins it too far out of reality

AnswerMan said...

Agree with anon 6:23. Scott over-analyzes every little thing. Cam Newton is the answer. He is respectful of the game, the owner, the coaches, the fans, his opponents and his teammates - and he has every right to try to light a fire. That's what leaders do - they challenge people. And it is about time someone besides Steve Smith got angry about mistakes and losing. Scott - he's a quarterback, not an international diplomat. Did he have a screwy metaphor? Sure - but if anyone is offended by that they need to go back to the croquet court.

Anonymous said...

This is one big overreaction to the Cam interview. He's a competitor and wants to win. Nothing was wrong with what he said in that interview.

M. Parker said...

Maybe he shouldn't have said it. Maybe it makes people uncomfortable to hear. But it is the truth. Losing is accepted here. Too many of our players just don't care about the game. They care about their paycheck. If more of them played to win and practiced that way we would not have the putrid teams we field almost every year. Their attitudes are disrespectful of the game and disrespectful of the fans. Way to go Cam for speaking from your heart. Never change !!!

Anonymous said...

I think Cam was a little off base with his comments, although it's hard to question his "will to win". And, I think Scott is on track with his comments.

Imagine you've been working at a company several years, and a new guy comes in and starts saying that others on the team don't work as hard as he does....how would that feel to you? The new guy doesn't know what has gone on proceeding him, so probably should study the situation for a while before declaring himself the only lion in the jungle.

No matter whether he is right or wrong, he's a rookie and should assume everyone tries as hard as he does......although they might not be as talented. Leave it to the coaches to determine who is doing their best. Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

7:55 Comment reply,

Well that company was going bankrupt. They got a new CEO to kick some butt and he is doing it. Great for him. This team needs a wake up call. There is very few people on that team playing all out like Cam is. If we had 22 starters like Cam we would be super bowl bound.

And Scott, just stop it! You have become such a polyanna from complaining about Smith's personal attitude towards you and now this. This is a non story. I realize you like to accept mediocrity and unfortunately for us here in Charlotte we do have to accept this minimalist effort at reporting, but leave the guy alone.

PLEASE CO, can we please get a bonafide sports reporter from the NY area. This humdrum is getting old.

Anonymous said...

you are the one stirring things up here...any players we have that do not take losing hard are not the players we want....this guy is a leader and we fans agree with everythig he said, we are tired of losing & tired of players that suck

Anonymous said...

Whatever your take is remember he is still a kid in some ways, new to this whole NFL business. He hates losing and is frustrated everyone doesn't buy into his mind set...I had no problem with what he said. Kinda reminded me Bluto's speech in "Animal House"....

Anonymous said...

Scott, I have to disagree with you on this one. I think Newton's comments were just what 90% of Panthers fans wanted to hear - and believe. With upcoming games against Atlanta and Houston - both playoff contenders - Newton is sending a clear message to everyone that he expects to win. Not wants to win. We all want to win, but not everyone is willing to out in the backbreaking work it takes to win consistently. Newton is. Everyone knows Cam isn't going anywhere. But if you're in the Carolina locker room and don't get behind him you very well might be out the door.

Anonymous said...

Face it! Cam really do not want to be in Charlotte. He's very arrogant, young, and single. He wants to be in a city that popping not in sports but in nightlife as well for singles.

Cam is from Atlanta, which is not a great sports city, but it's hollywood for AA. So to him Charlotte is like the country.

He will leave unless the Panthers give him exactly what he wants--- big city/bright lights. Just ask Peppers

Anonymous said...

I actually agree with what he said...what people don't seem to get is that he wants to change the Attitudes towards losing. They should NOT be acceptable, if this team wants to be a perennial playoff team. Mr. Richardson wants a WINNING TEAM, year after year, & so do I & so does CAM. Losing had become acceptable during Fox's last years & the attitude did affect some of our players. Not Jon Beason or Thomas Davis, but those leaders are not available this year, so CAM has to set the tone. I also believe that Coach Rivera has influenced Cam to believe that losing is not acceptable & to strive to be better every day so they can be a winning team. I believe RR & Cam will succeed towards getting us all on-board with this attitude. They have already changed mine!! I expect to win every game, now!

Anonymous said...

I must admit...I enjoy a win as much as the next fan..but I am still not totally SOLD on this kid. I think I saw him look at his play book with the coordiantor maybe 2 times this past game against Bucs.. that is 2 times more than I have seen him pay attention to the coordinators in probably 8 or so games..Most QBs..they make a mistake..throw a pick..they go to sideline and immediately look over the picture printouts; etc..that are put before them..Cam just sits on a bench to himself with that towel over his head..and have a pity party. If he wins..he is all over the field with that HUGE grin..congratulating everyone and their brother.. but if he loses..he puts the towel over his head and heads to the locker room. Poor sportmanship in my opinion. If he wants to be like another Rodgers, Peyton or Brady..he has to learn to be a leader on the field and learn that pouting is for little boys.. but again he is still just a kid..he will grow and learn one day..

I don't see him here for the long haul.. his dad and agent will figure something out to make him happy..and their pockets thick.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:09... Are you kidding me? Coach Shula comes over and talks to Cam after every possession. Just because you don't catch a shot on T.V. of the two men looking over photos of the opposing defense (that's actually what they are looking at, not the offensive playbook as you suggested) doesn't mean Cam isn't 110% into the game. Let's put this whole Cam is a crybaby loser thing because he sits on the bench all alone with a towel over his head to bed. He drapes a towel over his head on the bench because that's what his idol Michael Jordan used to do. He sits alone on the bench after every possession because that's what the Panthers coaches have told him to do. Only Coach Shula is allowed to talk to Cam on the bench during the game. The Panthers don't want Cam overwhelmed by Steve Smith and Jeremy Shockey telling him they are open on every play, but to take direction and instructions only from the quarterbacks coach. If Cam is sitting alone it's because Coach Shula hasn't made his way over to him yet or the two have already discussed the strategy for the next series.

Anonymous said...

I bet the reason Cam was so teed off early on was the fact that he saw the loser's attitude among some of the players, and felt he would be out of place saying anything.

Anonymous said...

Folks: Stop and think for a moment. This isn't about Cam. It's about Scott doing his job - and from your comments so far, he succeeded totally for the page views of the C.O today. Listen carefully to Scott right now:

"Gotcha!"

Anonymous said...

Cam Newton is exactly right.

The jernt needs shaking up.

Scott, you are just too, too nicey-nice.

The one thing I have always loathed about the south is the nice-to-your-face-stab-you-in-the-back culture that's so prevalent here.

Please go spend a few years in New Jersey and then come back.

Anonymous said...

Scott is bad, bad, bad. Let me play it his way...the good and the bad. Good - he spelled Newton's name right. The Bad - he applied his analytical aptitude on the interview. That's bad because Scott's analysis is poor to say the least. SCOTT...Mr I am too good to wear an NFL jersey....quite trying to stir up trouble. What Cam did was show LEADERSHIP. I know it's hard for you to recognize, but that's what it was. He called out his bad teammates...they know who they are...just like I'm calling you out as a bad sport reporter. SLAM

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:52pm,
Congratulations. You get the award for the most ignorant post of the day. You even beat out the author of the article. Way to go....

Anon 9:09pm,
You are simply looking for new reasons to hate on this kid. Get a life, AND a new pair of glasses that will help you see past your own ignorance!

PMG - Patrick Marketing Group said...

Yeah... I can't see how anything he said is 'damaging'. He wants to win and he wants his team mates to care when they loose.
Heck of a guy to try to singlehandedly try to lift up an entire franchise.

tony said...

Take his comments like a grain of salt. Newton is dumber than a box of rocks.

Anonymous said...

Ok seriously. I think we have all been in a situation where we haven't put in our best effort. Sometimes it takes a shock to the system to realize that we can do so much better then what we are currently doing. Cam Newton is that shock to system. If players don't want to get offended they need to step up, it's really that simple!

Anonymous said...

The only thing wrong with the analogy was it's PANTHER not lion in the jungle. Scott is a nitwit. If his job paid more than a buck 95 he would not have one...

Anonymous said...

Scott Fowler is exactly the type of person Cam is trying to describe! Simply out of touch with the true mechanics of football and feeding mediocrity in his methods, not supporting a winning way! It's okay, when I see him in public I'll do my part...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Baby Huey said...

Let’s not forget that Cam has experience that no one on the Panthers team or the Observer staff has. He went to two teams (Jr. College and College) who had never won a national championship and led them both to a National Championship while he was there. He evidently does not see the same desire with the Panther players he saw in those college teams. He is not able to personally overwhelm NFL players like he did in college (like 2nd half comeback to defeat Alabama). He needs his surrounding players to show the same spirit and desire.

Personally, I believe some of the tackling efforts I have watched with the Panthers are directly related to avoiding injury. I was embarrassed for some of the players. I want name them. But their efforts, especially on defense led to some of our losses.

Anonymous said...

scott speaks like a person who's never thrown a ball, terrible waste of bandwidth

Anonymous said...

So this is what happens to newspapers in the internet age; take your clues from sports radio, create artificial controversy to drive click counts...

I'll pay double for my subscription if you guys would get back to journalism.

Anonymous said...

I believe in five years, they will be looking at things like this interview as a turning point for this franchise. Go get 'em Cam, and thanks for pulling the rest of them with you!

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with Cam. Smith has that same attitude and it is about time that someone stepped up and said what all the fans have been thinking for years. You need to be tenacious and I do believe there are not enough Panther players who have that tenacious attitude. I believe Cam is just reiterating what the Rivera has been saying, which is "with the remainder of the year, I am going to seek out players who want to win and play". He has made some good moves bringing players up from the practice squad. The Offense has really stepped things up this year. Now it is time for the Defense and Special Teams to do the same. The front office, needs to continue to solidify some key positions through the draft and free agency. When they plug those holes, watch out, the Panthers will be competing and a team to be reckoned with in the NFL. Cam, continue doing what you are doing. This is a mental game, as much as a physical game and you have the right attitude and certainly the physical ability to help change a team and that is exactly what the Panthers needed when they drafted you.

Anonymous said...

Can they PLEASE get rid of Mick Mixon???????????????????????

His tv show AND his on air radio persona is UNBEARABLE

Anonymous said...

Okaaay maybe im tripping but I dont see the issue with the analogy. If you take a Lion into a calm environment (or losing environment in Cams case)...He is not gonna say "oh im in a regular house now...guess I need to change my nature"..not gonna happen...He's either gonna change that environment or they move him out to one that suits his needs. What was so hard to understand about that?