<
>

It's time for Cam Newton to lose the pouty attitude

play
Is the manner in which Panthers are losing impacting Newton? (0:52)

Louis Riddick explains how Cam Newton's demeanor at news conferences could be a reflection of the manner that the Panthers are losing. (0:52)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Cam Newton, from his one-of-a-kind hat to his custom-designed bow tie to his sparkly loafers, looked as if he stepped out of a GQ photo shoot when he arrived at his postgame news conference more than an hour after Sunday's loss at New Orleans.

He also wore an attitude.

Some fans -- and even media members -- have suggested perhaps the Carolina Panthers quarterback should tone down the clothes after a loss. Perhaps bring a more casual outfit in case of a setback to present a more humble image.

That will never happen. It probably shouldn't. To bring a losing outfit would suggest the NFL MVP is considering losing.

He doesn't. So there's no reason to suggest he should lose the designer clothes.

But Newton should lose the attitude.

His pouty face after the 41-38 loss to the Saints is unbecoming of a team captain, of the image you should want from the leader of your team, particularly when your team is struggling at 1-5.

That doesn't mean Newton has to smile and crack jokes. None of the other team captains or leaders did as they answered questions following another heart-wrenching loss, some before they had an hour to shower and dress.

It just means Newton needs to act professional, to answer questions in more than a few words that really don't address the questions.

Former Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme, who was at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday when Newton broke his career record for passing yards (19,258), agreed.

"I didn't want to talk to the media after a loss," said Delhomme, who played for Carolina in 2003-09. "It's the last thing you want. It's the most disheartening thing in the world.

"It's just that I would like for him to -- if I could tell him so -- don't add that extra like nagging, sibling [attitude]. You just bring a little more aggravation at your next press conference."

Delhomme brought up a good point. Newton's attitude and decision to abruptly walk out of his news conference means that will be the focus of his next news conference. That won't take place until next Wednesday because the team is on a bye.

"It's going to get aggravating," Delhomme said. "That's the thing I would want him to understand. Man, if you could just get it. I know it's hard. I despised it. But that's part of the job."

Newton defended this attitude after walking out of his news conference following Super Bowl 50 by saying he's a "sore loser."

"You show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser," he said two days after the 24-10 loss to Denver.

Newton didn't apologize.

Then a few months later he admitted in Ebony magazine he could have handled the situation better. He talked about representing something "way bigger than himself." He said he felt as if he had let his fans down.

Then he did it again Sunday.

Newton blamed his attitude after the Super Bowl on not having time to process the biggest loss of his career when asked to take the podium before having a chance to shower and get dressed. He also had to deal with listening to the banter from celebratory Denver players in the next room.

I defended him then because this wasn't a normal loss in a normal situation, because this was the first time Newton had faced disappointment at that level.

I said that if you accepted Newton's raw emotion when he "dabbed" after a touchdown, then you had to accept his raw emotion when he sulked after losing a Super Bowl.

He has no excuse for his attitude Sunday. He took more than hour to shower, dress and process the loss before stepping into the spotlight.

As spectacular as he was in guiding Carolina back from a 21-0 deficit to a 38-38 tie in the final minutes, he was unspectacularly pouty afterward.

He showed youth that he's trying to positively influence in his Nickelodeon show "All in With Cam Newton" that it's OK to act like a spoiled brat when things aren't going your way.

"It's going to get aggravating. That's the thing I would want him to understand. Man, if you could just get it. I know it's hard. I despised it. But that's part of the job." Jake Delhomme

He again didn't set the kind of example the NFL would want from a player future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning in February called the new face of the league.

The league doesn't want a pouty face.

That Newton was unhappy is understandable. His expectations were high after going 17-2 last season. The Panthers probably lost to Tampa Bay in Week 5 because he was sidelined because of a concussion.

But being unhappy doesn't mean you have to be pouty. It doesn't mean you have to have an attitude to let everyone know you're unhappy.

Delhomme learned this early in his career as a backup to Billy Joe Tolliver with the Saints.

"His whole mantra was, 'Hey, you've got to remember to swallow the sword. It's hard. It's difficult. Just swallow the sword and move on,' " Delhomme recalled.

"And this is back in the late '90s when the media coverage is nothing compared to what it is now."

Delhomme reminded that Newton didn't have the luxury of being an understudy. The first pick of the 2011 draft was thrust immediately into the starting lineup.

"A lot of guys I played with in New Orleans I was able to watch how it should not be done," Delhomme said. "So I was able to sit for six years and I was able to watch how I thought it should be done."

This isn't entirely Newton's fault. The Panthers have coddled his attitude almost from the time he entered Bank of America Stadium. They put him in front of the podium in the media room every week instead of allowing him to talk in front of his locker as past quarterbacks had.

They let him sulk on the sideline with a towel over his head during the early years. Now they let him sulk in front of the world wearing a designer suit.

Coach Ron Rivera simply acknowledges that Newton is a poor loser. He says the media should look to him, not the quarterback, for postgame reactions if they're going to bash him for his attitude after a loss.

Nobody tells Newton to simply lose the attitude.

Maybe it's time.