David NewtonESPN Staff WriterClose
- Covered Panthers, NFL for 11 years
- More than 25 years experience covering NFL, college football and NASCAR
- Joined ESPN in 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton didn’t get to dab during Super Bowl 50 and he didn’t feel much like talking after the 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos.
The newly crowned league MVP walked out on reporters Sunday night after answering only a handful of questions, most with short, soft-spoken answers.
The disappointment on Newton’s face was as noticeable as the lack of flare in his postgame attire.
Newton wore designer suits and sport coats, often with sequin-studded loafers, throughout the season following games. On this night, he wore a black hoodie with the hood pulled over his head.
It was a flashback to the first two years of Newton’s career when he was criticized for wearing a towel over his head on the sideline and sulking during losses.
Asked to put his disappointment into words, Newton delivered his longest answer.
“They just played better than us,” he said. “I don’t know what you want me to say. They made more plays than us, and that’s what it came down to. We had opportunities. There wasn’t nothing special that they did. We dropped balls, we turned the ball over, gave up sacks, threw errant passes.
“That’s it. They scored more points than us.”
This came after Newton’s mother, Jackie, sent her son a heartfelt text message that the Pro Bowl quarterback posted on Instagram prior to the game.
In the message, she wrote: “I understand that hot and cold water comes out of different fountains. You are neither hot or cold. You have a big platform. Which fountain are you? Don’t let the devil win over your words or speech that represents the dark world. But represent the awesome God you serve through your words. … You win with your character and powerful words you speak.”
Newton appeared downcast and spoke few words as he peered from underneath the hoodie while the voices of Denver players talking exuberantly about the victory reverberated from the adjacent interview area.
Newton had nothing to be exuberant about. He had one interception and two fumbles, one that resulted in a first-quarter touchdown by the Denver defense. He was sacked six times for minus-64 yards. He completed 18 of 41 pass attempts for 265 yards and a season-worst 55.4 passer rating.
Asked if Denver did anything different defensively than he’d seen on film, Newton said, “Nothing different.”
Asked why the Panthers didn’t play like they have all season when they led the league in scoring (31.2 PPG), he said. “They outplayed us.”
Asked if he could put his disappointment into words, he said, “We lost.”
Asked what coach Ron Rivera told players in the locker room, he said, “He told us a lot of things.”
Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery tried to put into words how his quarterback felt.
“He’s just hurting, man,” said Cotchery, who had two dropped passes after having none all season. “He put in a lot of work. . . . Had a heck of a year.”
Cotchery couldn’t speculate on whether Newton’s postgame behavior will bring back past criticisms.
“We all have areas where we can grow,” he said. “He has a family and friends that will talk to him and say to him whatever they need to say to him.”
Rivera said he spoke briefly to Newton after the game.
“This is one of those things that’s going to hurt,” he said. “It’s going to hurt everybody for a while. Hopefully, after a few days, or whatever it is, we’re going to get over it and we’ll move forward.”
Newton’s most poignant moment, other than abruptly walking away, came when asked if he had a message to Carolina supporters.
“We’ll be back,” he said.
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