In an Instagram message thanking the fans for a memorable 2015 season, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton wears a T-shirt that declares, “I win my way.”
The text accompanying the photo reiterates Cam’s “my way” mantra: “I am not perfect and I will make mistakes but I will continue to work on improving each day trying to perfect all my imperfection. Pursuing greatness is my commitment, and I will continue to be true to myself, to my family and to making all of you who follow me proud. I will win my way and hope to inspire you all to win your way.”
Perhaps an even more telling message appears over Newton’s right shoulder in the photo, in a framed crop of the iconic shot of Muhammad Ali standing over a fallen Sonny Liston.
“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even,” the quote from Ali declares.
That’s where Newton needs to focus in the next stage of his development. When things aren’t coming easily for Cam and the Panthers, he needs to fight past the feeling that it’s not his day and find a way to overcome the adversity, even if he’s tempted to think there’s no hope. As to his decision not to dive on that loose ball late in the Super Bowl, it’s possible that Newton decided, consciously or not, that there was no way the Panthers were going to score a touchdown against the Denver defense.
The next time Newton is in that situation, he needs to come up with an “extra ounce of power,” providing the throw or the run that will turn what seemed destined to be a defeat into a win.
I don’t care that he was sulking after the game; I’d rather see a player be miserable than happy following a tough loss. And I don’t blame him for walking out of the press conference after hearing Chris Harris Jr. crowing about what Denver’s defense did to Newton and the passing game. But to the extent that Newton’s emotions are distracting him during a game, Newton needs to “reach down to the bottom of his soul,” ignore the feeling that he’s destined to lose, and find a way turn it around.