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Bright Lights Were Newton's Kryptonite: NFL Unfiltered Super Bowl 50 Edition


If you watch closely, players often tell you when the moment is too large for them to function.  And it is not based on the number of passes, catches or runs.  

Instead, it is their behavior and or body language in those moments that tell you whether they’d rather be someplace else.  

And after his disappointing and uninspiring performance in the biggest game of his career, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has some explaining to do.  

It is not that great players always play well in big games. In fact, failure is part of being a professional athlete as Denver’s Peyton Manning knows as well as anyone, since he is one of the top-10 quarterbacks in NFL history, but still gave away two Super Bowls and tried hard to donate a third.  Photo: USATSI

But because Newton likes to have fun, fashions himself an entertainer, he simply cannot have that kind of game.  

His is a game of first down, gesticulating, touchdown, dabs and smiling throughout.  And with none of the three on display, Newton opened himself up to fair criticism as a glorified front-runner. The kind of player whose true enjoyment comes not from the game of football and the stage it provides, but from the scoreboard, like children often do.  

Personally, the Panthers’ QB makes pro football more interesting and he is a joy to watch.  However, in many circles, Cam Newton is cast as a villain, simply because he is unapologetically different.  And in the lead up to Super Bowl 50, he made you to believe nothing would change, win or lose, because he only knows one way to play.  

That is no longer the case.  

For 18 weeks, Newton behaved as if every game were a party and he was the life of it. He couldn’t wait to scamper for a pivotal first down and rise up with a little shimmy, a wink and a stylish point toward his opponent’s end zone.  

But in front of thousands in Levi’s® Stadium and more than 100-million people watching worldwide, Newton looked like an actor who knew Broadway was a little bigger than his thespian skills could handle.     

Simply put, he looked scared.  

What happened?  

According to Newton, the Panthers, "got outplayed."  A standard cliché and also blatantly false. No disrespect to wide receivers Corey Brown, Jerricho Cotchery, Ted Ginn and Devin Funchess, but they played about as well as expected, since Funchess is the only one with enough skill to become more than a third or fourth receiver.  

Furthermore, the Panthers defense played dominant football as they only surrendered one offensive touchdown in 60 minutes, which came as a direct result of Newton’s absolute refusal to dive on a loose ball deep in Carolina territory.  

No, the Panthers execution against a bad quarterback and terrific defense were just fine. The difference in the game should have been Newton.  If he wasn’t the best player on the field the Panthers still might have lost. But if he isn’t laughing and dancing and showing his teammates there is no place he’d rather be, they had no chance.

In one night, Newton went from a picture of growth and maturity to a man with real demons. A man so bound by the fear of failure, he couldn’t even muster a grin.  

How do you go from enjoying the game the way Newton had all season, to the pain on his face after the Panthers’ 2nd snap from scrimmage when he overthrew a wide open Brown?  

Early on, Denver led but the Panthers were clearly dominating play. All Carolina needed to do was relax and enjoy themselves. Breathe. Instead, they absorbed every bit of negative energy their superhero exuded. They then promptly used that emotional fuel to false start and fumble the football, as if they knew Clark Kent showed up in place of The Man of Steel.  

Still, you can count me as a fan of everything about Cam Newton’s football persona. And his unique skill gives him as good a chance to redeem himself as any quarterback in the NFL.  

But today, Superman’s kryptonite is now the brightest of lights.

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-Kudos to those who voted Von Miller the game’s MVP.  And it illustrates just how poorly Peyton Manning played, because you know if he had given them any reason to give him the hardware, he would have won it.  

-Newton wasn’t the only Panther too tight to perform. The entire Carolina contingent seemed nervous. They never believed they were the better team. Proof of that is the weak wide receiver option-pass play they ran on 2nd and 8 from Denver’s 49 yard-line.  At the time, there were over ten minutes left in the 1st half and the Broncos held a 10-7 lead. If you have the MVP, that play just isn’t necessary at that juncture.  

-Normally, I pay little to no attention to the zebras, but if those are the best officials the NFL had this season, the league has a real problem.  

-I can understand the reasoning behind Carolina head coach Ron Rivera’s decision to challenge the missed sack of Manning. But again, it seemed like a panic move because for Manning, ten yards might as well had been three, considering the way he was playing. And it left the Panthers out of challenges for the rest of the game.  

-Denver safety T. J. Ward obviously understood Newton’s importance, since he tried to put him out of the game on many occasions.

-Let me get this straight, Ashley Manning received a shipment of HGH from The Guyer Institute.  Then, her husband Peyton’s attorneys hired two men to visit the home of Charlie Sly's parents, Sly being Al Jazeera’s key witness in their documentary on athletes and HGH use.  And that’s not enough to say Peyton Manning likely used something to try to extend his storied career?  The mainstream media’s cherry-picking of pro athletes surrounding PED’s is absurd.   


Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area. He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention. His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.

Contact Earl at emyersiii@hotmail.com

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Photo:  USATSI