Perhaps my Seattle perspective is too biased to give Cam Newton a fair shake. I'm still not pleased at his showboat antics while ousting my beloved Seahawks from the playoffs last month.
But last night, Newton exposed himself as a poor loser following his Carolina Panthers' loss to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
There's an old adage that says a person's true character shines through during adversity. Lots of people wear the solid-character veneer in good times, but fewer can step up and walk the walk when hardship arrives.
Newton demonstrated that in spades during his post-Super Bowl interview. The gifted man who had been all struts and smiles while throwing, running, and dabbing his way through a 17-2 season appeared downright petulant at the microphone. Half-hidden behind his pulled-up hoodie, Newton to me seemed sullen, curt, and unwilling to answer tough questions.
Now, I know the man had a tough job, facing the spotlight on a giant global stage following enormous disappointment. But he didn't man up to the challenge. Not in a mature way, like Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll did last year. Or Peyton Manning the year before. Was their disappointment any less palpable than Newton's?
During the game I pondered, why do I dislike Newton? Yes, he's arrogant, a showoff who taunts his opponents, a "Hey, look at me!" poser in love with cameras.
But so was one of my favorite sports heroes, Muhammad Ali.
Yet with Ali, there was something lovable about his antics. You knew most of it was for show, to sell tickets.
And when Ali lost, rare as it was, he did so with much more grace.
Here's hoping the Super Bowl humbling cultivates some grace in Newton. I'm skeptical but want to be wrong. His undeniable talent will command the sport’s world’s attention, and scrutiny, for years to come.