Accepting Defeat: An Open Letter to Cam Newton

Dear Cam Newton,

I know you’re young, only 26 years old. That’s the age of many of my clients. Unlike you, most of them are working in 9-5 jobs or applying to Ph.D programs. They didn’t get multi-million dollar signing bonuses and don’t have five year contracts to play football. Many of my clients, and for that matter, so many Americans, can only dream of living your lifestyle.

I’m sorry your team lost the Super Bowl. I was rooting for you. But, while watching the press conference, my opinion changed from “it’s really too bad the Panthers lost” to “Cam Newton is acting like a baby.” Your behavior was nothing short of immature and the language you used sounds like you’re an overpaid baby.

Sorry to be so harsh. I really do want to support you, and other men who fall prey to victimhood. However, when you lose the Super Bowl, you’re not a victim. Rather, you’re the runner up. You played in the SUPER BOWL at age 26, you make millions of dollars, you have a new baby, you are on track to have a great career. There’s no victim here. Maybe you forgot what happened. Let me remind you:

‘Newton made headlines not for the loss, but for his postgame interview, where after a very brief question and answer conference, he walked out of the interview. In some ways, the interview was brutal. Newton is seen surrounded by reporters, asking about what went wrong for the Carolina team and his thoughts on the loss. Newton followed the questions with a number of “no’s” and short sentences. When asked about what he did or didn’t expect, the quarterback follows, “They just played better than us. I don’t know what you want me to say. They made more plays than us and that’s what it comes down to. We had our opportunities. We dropped balls, we turned the ball over, gave up sacks, errant passes. That’s it. They scored more points than us.” The player was shown with his head held down and breathing deeply before making his exit.’ From Vibe

Cam, the public likes your football-giving, dab-dancing, smiling persona. The public wants you to accept defeat graciously. We want you to humbly accept that the other team beat you, but not for lack of effort on your side. Most people don’t need to know play-by-play details of what the Panthers could have done differently; rather, we want to hear you congratulate the Broncos and accept that the game didn’t go in your favor.

Maybe I’m pollyanna about this. It’s your dream to play in the Super Bowl and it must feel disheartening and even heartbreaking to lose. But walking out of the press conference wasn’t courteous. It’s not how we want to see a super athlete. We want to see you as a polite, well-adjusted man who can show emotion and sit through discomfort. We all hoped you’d take responsibility and speak with honesty, not whine and pout. 

Same with all the other men… By and large, women are looking to befriend, date, and love men who are humble and gracious. Not men who use sentences like, “I don’t know what you want me to say.” Someone said that to me a few times, and each time I’d reply with: “I want you to actually speak your truth. I want you to say what you really feel, and mean what you say.” When someone said it to me, it felt placating and childish.

I hope you’ll learn from this, Cam, and speak more humbly next season. You have a choice as to how you present yourself: you can be a gentleman with superhuman athletic prowess or you can be a childish brute who plays the part of victim. We want to see you succeed. And for all the other men who didn’t get to play in the Super Bowl, the same is true for you. You have the choice to be charming communicators or you can groan and have temper tantrums that show a childish, untrustworthy side. We hope you’ll choose to speak with intention and honor, not whiny language that shows us you’re crumbling.


Nina Rubin

In case you don’t know, I am a Life Coach and work with men and women on issues such as feeling defeated, changing jobs, and romantic pursuits.

Image above courtesy of Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Cam Newton at a press conference after the Super Bowl. Newton’s comments led many columnists to say he was too petulant.



2 thoughts on “Accepting Defeat: An Open Letter to Cam Newton

  1. While I agree with everything you say, the only thing I would consider is that he’s 26 years old, and never really failed at anything before. I did a LOT of much dumber things at his age, things that I paid for years after the fact. Cam has a chance to rise again, I think, and hopefully will be more graceful in defeat. Good post, IMO!


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