Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Nobody Much Likes Losing

Illustration for article titled Nobody Much Likes Losing

Here are some opinions a reasonable person can hold, simultaneously and without friction:

  • The sullen, grumpy, sore-loser act Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton brought to his postgame press conference last night probably does not identify him as the very coolest and most chill dude in the world. Probably the very coolest and most chill dude in the world would be, what, ideally? Stoked to have played in the Super Bowl, I bet, and in good humor about having lost it. Ah man, those fuckers, he would say, with a tired smile. They got us. But it was fun as hell! Can’t wait to get back and take another crack at it.
  • On the other hand, what does anyone expect? Make the Super Bowl the culture’s highest secular holiday; make winning it shorthand for the purest distillation of American joy; make the day-to-day work of reaching it punishing and miserable far beyond the endurance of all but the very most driven and competitive of large young men; and you probably shouldn’t expect that the guy who will have to spend the next year biting down on the leather belt of constant miserable grinding toward the next one as a gating mechanism for the pain of having lost this one to be all smiles and chuckles in the first half-hour afterward. The very coolest and most chill dude in the world will never play in the Super Bowl.
  • This sentiment, which has been expressed in various wordings all over the internet since last night, and for the fleetingest of moments seems almost to make a kind of sense, actually is incoherent nonsense:

What exactly is “it,” here, that Cam Newton is having “both ways”? And what are the two ways he’s having it? From here it sure looks like he’s having two its (success, and defeat) one way (how Cam Newton wants to have them, without much regard for how well he conforms to anybody else’s notion of propriety). Which is beside the point, anyway, since it’s rather clearly true that Cam Newton very much can have it the way(s) he is having it, or didn’t you notice that he remains the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers this morning?

  • To the extent this sentiment contains an intelligible thought, it’s that Cam Newton deserves criticism for seeking attention for himself when things are going well, and then spurning attention when things go poorly. Our own Drew Magary expressed as much this morning: “You can’t demand the spotlight and then push it away when you deem it inconvenient,” he wrote. With all due respect for Drew, he does not tweet out announcements about pieces he writes that get spiked. Good attention is better than bad attention. Good things are more enjoyable than bad things. Preferring good things to bad things is not hypocrisy or weakness.
  • The job of covering a sporting event that happens at night can be a shitty and shit-eating one, especially for reporters who must file their stories for the following morning, and for as dopey and useless as the “Talk about ...” sort of thing can be, they’re just schmoes with jobs that are a lot worse than being a star professional athlete, and it’s cool when star professional athletes do their part to make this less awful for everybody. Cam Newton could have, and didn’t, and if you find this makes you less excited to be his friend today than you were yesterday, well, okay.
  • On the other hand, Cam Newton could scarcely have done better to give ready-made copy to the Take Industrial Complex in his postgame presser, shy of taking his pants off during it. This is a much less cute version of the Riley Curry phenomenon from the NBA Finals, when some beat reporters very weirdly complained that the presence of Steph Curry’s adorable and unpredictable young daughter at the postgame podium somehow fucked things up for them by making the postgame presser infinitely more enjoyable and newsworthy than it otherwise would have been. Witness, for example, the very internet blog post you’re now reading, which would not exist at all had Cam Newton showed up to the podium ready to deliver boilerplate about how far short of 110-percent the Carolina Panthers fell last night.
  • Hell, he even got the reporters out of the room earlier, so they could file sooner!
  • That roid-raging moron, virulent racist, all-around heap of shit, and former NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski’s hastily-deleted “boy” tweet—
Illustration for article titled Nobody Much Likes Losing

—is, well, everything you know it is goes without saying. Still, last night you likely saw, and today will see again, many less- or less-obviously or non-racist variations on the notion that Cam Newton’s presser performance somehow reflects poorly on his qualities vis-a-vis what is to be expected of an elite NFL quarterback. Here’s one, under the headline “Cam Newton, a Man of Many Talents, Falls Short on Leadership,” from the New York Times’s Michael Powell, who once called the New York Marathon a “glorious cross-city sprint”:

Newton, 26, an ebullient, intelligent, gifted quarterback, decided to act in his moment of truth like a 13-year-old.


It was as if Newton was intent on taking his magical season, his jumping jacks and dabs and evident leadership, and poking a hole in his side. He let his charisma and leadership drain away, to be replaced by a soup of the sour and the petulant.


Newton’s talents are many. His challenge is to prove himself equal to leading his fine team.


This is a weird narrative with which to resolve a 17-2 MVP season that ended in the Super Bowl at the hands of one of the most dominant defenses possibly ever. Probably if Cam Newton were not "equal to leading his fine team," they would not have been in the Super Bowl. It’s also lousy football analysis. Did you watch Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware? Probably a willingness to sit for a longer postgame presser is not the tactical key to defeating them.

  • If you think Cam Newton’s postgame presser showed immaturity, what did you think of the several hours leading up to it, in which Newton dressed up like a cyborg and threw footballs at people to make the numbers go up on a giant glowing scoreboard? His actual job is to live out an eight-year-old’s dream birthday party on television; if your search for sophisticated adult contemplation has brought you to the postgame presser of the Super Bowl, I submit that you have conducted it, well, rather like a 13-year-old might.
  • I grind my teeth in bed if a stranger on Xbox Live frags me in a video game with what I regard as an overpowered pistol. Cam Newton blows off postgame pressers when he gets pressured 34 times, sacked six times, and loses the Super Bowl. Maybe you, just to grab an example, misidentify as an informed critique of leadership qualities your own professional pique or personal distaste. There’s all kinds of sore losers, man.

Photo via Getty

Contact the author at or on Twitter @albertburneko.

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