Newton needs to learn about the law of losing


Cam Newton’s post-game behavior was boorish and petulant. It was not “super.” Those who have disliked him since college instantly re-congratulated themselves for being right.

THIS was the spoiled-brat Cam whose father reportedly shopped him to the highest bidder when he was forced to Blinn Community College after getting drop-kicked out of Florida for allegedly stealing a computer.

Ah-ha! We KNEW this guy was a phony at Auburn who played dodge ball with the NCAA all the way to the 2010 BCS title!

But enough about what Alabama and Oregon think.

Newton had almost outgrown his bad-boy rap but will now have to undergo some more damage-control counseling.

Too bad. He could have learned so much about losing from any number of famous quarterbacks in attendance for Sunday’s Super Bowl in Santa Clara.

Well, maybe not Joe Montana, who went 4-0 in the big game with zero interceptions.

Newton’s pout-fest after defeat to the Denver Broncos reminded Rankman of a press conference almost 20 years ago conducted after a big Southeastern Conference game in Gainesville, Fla.

Rankman remembers filing into the interview room wondering how the losing quarterback would handle his third straight loss to the Florida Gators.

This was no ordinary quarterback, mind you. Or, no ordinary game. This particular defeat, on Sept. 20, 1997, likely cost him the Heisman Trophy. His team was favored. The guy was so distraught you thought he might need to be escorted to the podium like a widow to a grave site.

Instead, he stood tall in what had to be his lowest athletic moment to that date. Someone asked him if he was “tortured” by the defeat.

“Tortured?” he responded. “I’ve got thick skin. I can bounce back. I’m disappointed, don’t get me wrong. But this is football, you’ve got to prepare for the good and the bad.”

The suffering QB that day was Tennessee’s Peyton Manning. Watching Newton on Sunday reminded Rankman of how the opposing quarterback handled that loss all those years ago. My respect for Manning after that defeat to Florida superseded anything he did after any victory.

Manning was well-schooled in public relations, decorum and defeat-handling by his famous dad, Archie, who took more NFL lumps than any quarterback who ever played.

Yet, Rankman remains, to this day, impressed with how Peyton absorbed that moment with a maturity beyond his years.

What Peyton knew–and what Cam Newton needs to learn–is that he was in this post-game business for the long haul. Manning knew three straight losses to Florida, no matter how brutal, were not going to define him.

Here are a few lines from my story in the Los Angeles Times after Tennessee’s 1997 loss to Florida.

“Manning left the field to derisive taunts of “Cit-rus Bowl, Cit-rus Bowl.” He was sacked three times, beaten to a Florida pulp. Once again, Manning was magnificent in defeat. Once again, he went over to pay respects to the players who have wrecked his legacy.”I can’t stand to lose,” Manning said. “But I’m not going to start a fight with any of their players.”

Newton took the petulant, emotional, myopic view. It was understandable, but avoidable. Newton is going to win a Super Bowl for Carolina, maybe two or three, yet his actions exposed character flaws that need rehabilitation.

Newton could learn, ironically, by studying the quarterback who lifted Sunday’s Lombardi Trophy.

“I hate to lose,” Manning said after a 1997 loss to Florida that turned out to be a blip on his resume. “I hate to lose more than I like to win, probably. I’m sure Coach Spurrier will make a few more jokes. That’s fine.”

Manning was right. One loss did not define him. Florida Coach Steve Spurrier did make more jokes. Peyton, though, saw the bigger picture. Turns out he was fine.

Newton missed a chance to take the high road, but this doesn’t have to be a dead end.

It’s not too late for Cam to learn about losing… from the guy who just beat him.



5 thoughts on “Newton needs to learn about the law of losing

  1. Too true. What a missed opportunity for Cam to establish a PR legacy and set the table for the long haul. Regrettable flaws in character and education and avoidable shortfalls in training exposed.

    Boy, how the narrative could have been different for him today.

    One question: were there no organizational resources around him at press time, or was he unwilling to listen?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One has a father who played the game and lost his share, but win or lose, was a class act; the other has a father who sold him to the highest bidder following his junior college days.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great piece, Chris.
    I really value your positivity in this case but I was truly disappointed in his behavior. All the shenanigans during the season, I felt, was fun and games, albeit not my cup of tea. He was the most fun to watch on the field. His problem is that he only lost one game all year.
    What you are defining here is character. Despite your optimism, the kid has had several years to mature and recover from his past contretemps and Sunday night proved he hasn’t.
    Most good QBs, or anyone for that matter, learn from their failures and exceptional people use what they learned to take maximal advantage of those second chances. Kurt Warner, Jim Plunkett and Peyton Manning come to mind. In the case of Cam Newton, the difference between him and the others is the quality of their character.
    I’m not going to pile on the guy. Before I read your piece I was already feeling pity, not anger towards Cam Newton. I hope you are correct about his prospects.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, Rankman
    Cam missed a huge PR opportunity, but I’m sure he’ll bounce back.
    He is, after all, still a kid and will mature a lot along the way.
    Getting a big scoop of humble pie shoved down your throat on the word’s biggest stage has to be tough to handle.

    Liked by 1 person

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