Cam Newton used a Vince Lombardi quote to answer critics who took issue with the way he conducted himself after Carolina’s Super Bowl 50 loss.
“Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser,” Newton said.
Lombardi’s words are considered gospel in football circles. There is a certain poetic nature to see the future of the NFL use wisdom from the first Super Bowl winner.
The only problem is that the quote doesn’t hold up to much dissection.
What it’s supposed to imply is that losing should be seen as unacceptable and make the vanquished hot with fire so it never happens again. It’s a fine sentiment and has obvious merit — especially for a football coach trying to get his team to rebound. What it also implies is that those that are “good” at losing are doing it wrong. That coping with a loss can be done one way and one way alone.
Sound familiar? It’s the reason why Newton is in the position to answer questions about his behavior in the first place.
There’s a faction of people who needed — for a variety reasons — for Newton to give a more professional performance after Sunday’s loss. The MVP, who has gone so far as to tell us we’ve never seen an athlete like him before, did not meet their expectations. No surprise there.
Newton’s defenders correctly point out the moments directly after a Super Bowl loss are extraordinarily difficult, they also claim the setup allowed for Broncos cornerback Chris Harris to intentionally or otherwise chirp within earshot and that the polarizing quarterback was simply being himself.
Whether you think Newton should be criticized or left alone is a debate taking place, well, almost everywhere else on the Internet outside of this post.
It’s this quote combined with the Lombardi homage that brings up a different issue.
“The truth of the matter is, who are you to say that your way is right?” Newton said. “That’s what I don’t understand. We have all these people condemning and saying this… But what makes your way right?”
What makes any way right?
Newton’s dealing with a loss on the sport’s biggest stage in a much different way than Russell Wilson did a year ago. Both of their actions fit with their respective personalities and appeal to different segments.
What do they have in common? They both lost and chose how to cope with that loss.
A hatred of losing is near universal. You show me someone who enjoys losing and I’ll show you a masochist. You show me someone who is telling someone else how to act after a loss and I’ll show you someone who needs to let people act how they want to after losses.
By Newton’s logic many of his teammates are losers for not being as public with their disgust. Josh Norman. Greg Olsen. Every Panther who didn’t sulk or storm off. Are we to assume that they don’t care? That the loss didn’t impact them the same way the loss effected Newton?
That insinuation won’t play well within the locker room and it’s also just not accurate. There are other ways to deal with loss than stomp and put on a hang-dog face and make it known that you’re the most disgusted person in the world.
Losing sucks. It sucks as a player, it sucks as a fan and it sucks in life. You know what sucks even more? Being told to how to cope with a loss.
That’s what the anti-Newton crowd is doing and that’s what Cam did, perhaps inadvertently.
We need to stop trying to hang two L’s on athletes — one for the game and one for the postgame. Losing is not a one-size-fits-all cross to bear and should be treated as such.