He came. He saw … and he lost. Then he just didn’t want to talk about it. Now, months after the Super Bowl, Cam Newton is still paying PR consequences for his less than mature behavior after being whipped by Peyton Manning in Super Bowl 50.
In some cases, how an athlete reacts at a news conference, particularly if he doesn’t say much of anything, won’t make the news. But those rules change when you’re Cam Newton. Everyone realizes this, just as they know it’s not fair. But folks, public relations is not fair. Often, it’s a blood sport, where there are only winners and losers. And you rarely if ever just get to walk away and hope it gets better.
This is not without precedent. Warren Sapp, Randy Moss, and Keyshawn Johnson are names that come to mind when you think about players who were less than polite to reporters. But do we really believe these are the only players who have mouthed off – or refused to speak? Remember Marshawn Lynch? Of course you do, because the media kept on and on about his less than spectacular cooperation during press conferences.
Shortly after the aborted interview, Newton tried to sidestep the criticism by, of all things, quoting Vince Lombardi, but even that didn’t pass muster. Fair? Not remotely, but, again, this ain’t about fair. It’s about public relations.
It’s possible Cam Newton is beginning to understand. In a recent interview with Ebony Magazine, the star QB offered what could be considered both an explanation and the beginning of an apology: “The truth is, I represent something way bigger than myself … I’m doing it for my fans and my family, and I felt like I let them down.”
Newton went on to admit he was anxious, embarrassed, and stressed. He didn’t expect most people to understand, but there it was. It will not be enough for Cam haters – and there are many, but it should be enough of a shift for the QB to put the issue behind him and move on. Hopefully, he learned something. He plays with intense talent and passion, and that’s why people love him. He should also expect passion when it comes to how people feel about him.
5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian is an award-winning Public Relations executive.