As a physical specimen, there aren’t many players in the NFL like Cam Newton. He has all the gifts – size, speed, strength and agility. What he lacks most, and it showed this season, is maturity.
Newton’s dancing after touchdowns and posing after big plays are done to show up his opponent. I know some will argue that he is just having “fun.” No, fun is something both parties enjoy. Like I tell kids during my Musial Moments presentations, when your enjoyment comes at someone else’s expense, that’s not fun. It’s taunting and possibly bullying.
And if he’s really not trying to show up his opponent, the dancing and posing is still immature and childish. Touchdowns and first downs are commonplace in the NFL. Who over-celebrates common occurrences more than children? Look at how much they dance and celebrate over a scoop of ice cream.
On the other hand, when you tell kids they can’t have ice cream, how do they behave? What body language do they give you? Does it look something like Newton’s postgame presser on Sunday? Have a look at the video below and tell me that’s not how an immature person acts when they don’t get their way.
But he just lost the biggest game of his life. So? Forty-nine other times in Super Bowl history, a quarterback has had to sit in his chair. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, John Elway, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Steve McNair, Russell Wilson and Kurt Warner among others faced the music when their teams came up short in the big game.
Tom, did you feel helpless when you saw David Tyree make that catch with his helmet? Steve, how did you feel when you realized Mike Jones made the tackle at the one? Peyton, did you see the defensive back before you threw that pick six? Russell, is Pete Carroll a good coach?
They were all asked questions they didn’t want to answer. Newton is not special in that regard. He needs to grow up if the Panthers are going to take the next step. If you are going to assume the role of leader, you have to take the good with the bad.
Of course, there will be those who point out instances where other quarterbacks behaved poorly after a loss. So? Is your attitude and character based on others? Does Peyton Manning storming off the field six years ago make it OK for Cam Newton to sulk now?
Maturity is about knowing how to behave at the appropriate time and place. It’s why you don’t laugh at funerals, wear flip-flops to church, or sit in a professional setting with a hoodie on looking like someone just stole your bike.
One last thing to remember: Superman doesn’t show his ‘S’ in celebration. He shows it as he’s running to help others in trouble. Food for thought.