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Cam Newton Doesn’t Have to Be What You Want Him to Be


Anthony Rizzuti
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton did not handle his post-Super Bowl presser well. But relax, folks. It's not the end of the world nor does it define who he is. | Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Apologies to those who deal with test anxiety, but it’s time for a quiz. 

 

Which of the comparison lines (A, B or C) matches the reference line in length?

 

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Piece of cake. It’s ‘A,’ right? Duh.

 

What if, however, you were placed at the end of a line alongside four other test takers? And what if the proctor asked you and each of your four newfound peers to reveal their answers aloud?

 

The first participant shares. ‘B,’ he states decisively. The second participant follows. She also declares it’s ‘B’ in an assuring manner. The third person? Another ‘B’ with absolute conviction. Then finally the fourth? Yup, ‘B’ for them too.

 

Hmmm.

 

You thought the answer was ‘A,’ didn’t you? Yet the first four responses all came up ‘B.’ Now it’s your turn. What do you do?

 

Despite what may have been your original judgement, would you second-guess yourself? Would you change your answer to match the other four, believing that you may not be correct after all? Would your confidence remain strong enough to resist the sudden and unforeseen pressure now placed upon you?

 

Well, let’s hope it was since the answer is indeed ‘A.’ Oh, and about your four fellow test takers…you know, the ones that were wrong. Yeah, all plants. They were all placed beside you to deliberately try to sway your opinion.

 

That scenario, folks, originated from a study conducted during the 1950s by Polish psychologist Solomon Asch. Known to some as the Asch Paradigm, these experiments tested the influence a group of peers had on the thoughts or ideas of an individual. Do people tend to conform with the homogenous beliefs of those around them or adhere to their own feelings?

 

According to Asch’s findings, at least 75 percent of those tested yielded at least one incorrect answer to a series of these line comparison conundrums. While every ounce of that 75 percent likely did not come as a result of peer pressure, Asch concluded that many of his subjects’ answers were altered to due to the power of conformity.

 

So, again, would you fall victim to the conformity? Are you likely to be shaken and become a tally in that overwhelming 75 percent? If so, no worries. There is a way to correct your potential lack of self-confidence. Just look no further than the 6’5”, 245-pound guy under center over in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

(Now take that tip, fold it up and put it in your pocket for a few minutes.)

 

One week ago, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton suffered the most heart-rendering loss of his career. Shortly after that Super Bowl defeat, the NFL’s freshly-crowned Most Valuable Player would then convene with media for what resulted in a painfully brief postgame presser. 

 

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Newton took the 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos considerably hard. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

 

Newton, looking like a boy who had just found out his puppy died, sat dejectedly in his black hooded top. He’d proceed to mutter short three to four-word answers to the barrage of hungry reporters.

 

“Got outplayed.”

 

“Got outplayed, bro.”

 

“No.”

 

“Nope.”

 

The last jab, one that would prompt Newton to abruptly leave the session, conjured up an “I’m done, man.” And that was it.

 

What followed—unfortunately, but predictably enough—was a heavy storm of harsh criticisms. Criticisms that questioned Newton’s leadership, selflessness, humility—all of those checklist items that finger-waggers expect from an NFL quarterback.

 

(Ok, reach for your pocket and take out that aforementioned lesson we attributed to a few paragraphs up. Here it is…)

 

Unfortunately for the stuffed shirts out there, Cam Newton will not conform to your ideal of what of a person or a football player should be. He does not need your life advice.

 

He does not need to be told how to carry himself by talking heads who are insanely out of touch, he does not need to be lectured about sportsmanship by an analyst who openly promoted intentional harm and he doesn’t need to be chastised by a former linebacker who used to punch, kick and spit on fellow players and teammates. 

 

And the same goes for the self-righteous Twitter crowd. Particularly, those with the dog avatars who preach incessantly about “class” and love to use “your” when the context of their obtuse thought process calls for “you’re.”

 

The truth is, Cam never longed for your assessments or critiques. He’s a 26-year-old man who’s doing rather well for himself and his family from a monetary standpoint. He was recently recognized as the most indispensable entity in a field that only a tiny fraction of people get the chance to work in. And he’s also breaking some kind of longstanding record or setting his own precedent seemingly every week he steps into that job.

 

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Cam chats it up with Panthers honor coach Braylon Beam before hitting the field. (Photo credit: AP)

 

But above all his successes, Newton has served as a continuous source of inspiration for the youngsters that look up to him. From his ever-growing Cam Newton Foundation to his contagious playfulness to his simple act of handing over a football in the stands, the guy is devoted to enhancing children’s lives and giving them memories they’ll never forget

 

Quite frankly, Cam is kicking life’s ass.

 

Has he ever done anything utterly and legitimately destructive? Has he ever endangered the wellbeing of others with drug or alcohol consumption? Has he ever physically attacked a female? Has he ever allegedly slapped his scrotum into the face of a trainer in college and built up an elaborate smear campaign to save face? No, no and no. So why all the loaded animosity?

 

Newton undoubtedly could have handled that now infamous post-Super Bowl press conference much better than he did. There’s certainly no debate about that. Plus, he’ll learn and grow from that embarrassing lapse.  just as he has from others during his time as a professional. But let’s not act as if the very existence of society depends on how Newton handles a loss. It’s only sports.

 

He isn’t a politician and shouldn’t, just like the rest of his NFL colleagues, be held to the standards of one. Excuse the man’s momentary despair for falling off a mountaintop he spent the better part of his life climbing. Save your energy, your columns and your Twitter fingers for the real issues. Perhaps the 6,000 to 12,000 kids in Flint, Michigan who are being affected by a polluted water supply water supply need your attention because football, in comparison to that problem, certainly doesn’t need it.

 

After all, you didn’t have to read this (but thanks, anyway) to figure out that Newton refuses to kowtow. That’s not how he rolls, that’s not how his Carolina Panthers roll. Cam just said so himself…

 

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(Instagram: @Cameron1Newton)

 

So forget about your angry tweets, your degrading blog posts and your aggravating on-air debates. Hell, take Solomon Asch and that damn 75 percent to the woodshed with you. Because when it’s all said and done, Cam Newton will have taught us a worthwhile lesson in maintaining your uniqueness and not being sorry about who you are.

 

If you show me the man wearing that No. 1 in the Carolina black and blue, I’ll show you a role model, a pioneer of sorts even. He’s a role model that isn’t apologetic for his personality, one that proves you can still embrace fun even as an adult, one that achieved great success doing things his way and one that wouldn’t have switched his answer from ‘A’ to ‘B.’

 

 

For more on the Carolina Panthers, follow @Anthony_Rizzuti and @spot_panthers on Twitter.


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