Losing is a natural part of life. It does not matter who you are or where you are from.
It happens to everyone. Some just take it more harshly than others. We all have friends who are competitive in everything they do. They have to win when you are playing a friendly game of Ping-Pong or they get extremely mad and they throw the controller when you beat them at their favorite video game.
Now take those people and imagine how they would act after losing the Super Bowl, arguably America’s most-watched television event. In this historic 50th edition of the big game, it was the Carolina Panthers versus the Denver Broncos.
Perhaps the biggest storyline going in last Sunday’s game was Peyton Manning versus Cam Newton. Manning has been the face of the NFL for years, with practically everyone agreeing he is a class act and a sure pick for the Hall of Fame.
On the other side, we have Newton, the MVP of the 2015 season who led his team to a 17-1 record this season. Many believe that with the positive attitude he portrays, he could be the future of the league with a win in Super Bowl 50.
The Broncos had other ideas. They ended up winning the big game 24-10, sacking Newton seven times and tying a Super Bowl record in the process. Carolina had excelled throughout the course of the year, but not last Sunday. After the game, Newton and Manning shook hands, with Manning saying Newton was “extremely humble.” Newton left the field to head back to the locker room where he soon gave his post-game press conference. Newton looked dejected, even showing up in a hoodie trying to hide his disappointment. This is the point where the story of Newton’s character truly heats up.
Reporters started asking Newton questions, which he answered abruptly. He obviously did not want to be there and honestly, who can blame the guy? About three minutes into his press conference, Newton got up and just walked away, leaving the reporters stunned. Over the next few hours, every sports talk station was criticizing Newton for his behavior.
It became known over the next two days that Broncos cornerback Chris Harris was on the other side of the curtain, also giving a press conference, saying, “Load the box, force y’all to throw the ball. Can you throw the football? That was the game plan,” according to ESPN’s David Newton. While those comments are far from inflammatory, it is understandable why Newton left his own press conference. None of us want to hear the other team talk about how bad they beat us. So why is it that people are criticizing Newton for walking out?
Being the reigning MVP of the NFL is a primary reason. The Associated Press’ award for the most valuable player is given to someone who is just that — someone who can change the outcome of a single game.
Newton enjoyed playing the game this year. He often encouraged his teammates and gave away game balls to kids in the stands. Feeling the frustration after a loss is typical for anybody.
In our society we push professional athletes so hard that we often think of them as robots instead of people with hopes, dreams, desires and feelings. We all just need to cut Newton some slack because he acted in the heat of the moment. It in no way excuses his behavior, but we should give the guy a second chance before judging him for something that he is not.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and are not representative of The Slate or its staff as a whole.