Note: This post assumes you have seen/heard the Cam Newton interview with ESPN the Magazine. I highly suggest you listen to it first before reading this post. You can find the interview here.
Being an NFL fan is one fraught with navigating pre-disposed biases. As a whole there are certain universal opinions we are supposed to prescribe to; it's okay for a defensive player to be nasty, it's acceptable for a WR to be selfish, and it's expected that a QB presents himself as humble. Even players like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady play up their 'every-man' status as just another one of the guys when it is seemingly impossible that they view themselves so meekly.
Cam Newton doesn't present himself to be meek, or humble... it's not his style. Already drawing behavioral comparisons to Michael Jordan he seems to have a transcendent quality that has allowed him to become one of the leaders of the Carolina Panthers just eight months after being drafted. For better or for worse Newton's competitive fire is what drives him, and there are going to be times this fire will jump-the-shark, but by in large it's what will ultimately bring this franchise as close to greatness as we've seen.
More after the jump
There will be plenty of people who will skewer Cam for this interview, after all we have a pre-disposition to expect humility from a quarterback. Marc James of WFNZ was already attempting to stir to pot during his radio show this afternoon as he interpreted this interview as Newton being statistic obsessed, rather than victory obsessed when he talked about wanting to throw for more yards in a given game than Andy Dalton. To me, this interpretation is typical, lazy, pot-stirring trying to get a rise out of people. I saw Newton's comments as being directly referential to the question asked about how he reacts to seeing other quarterback's success, and therefore I had no problem with his answer. Anyone who thinks Newton cares about stats over winning hasn't been watching Panthers football this season.
One aspect of the interview I'm still in two minds over is Newton's view on bad plays and how one should react to them. On the one hand I appreciate and agree with his 'strike while the iron is hot' mentality and not allowing apathy to breed a 'well get them next time' attitude, but there is something to be said for that mental state also. I'm sure you've experienced, as I have what it's like to make a mistake, under-perform at a task or just plain screw something up. It's the times when we wallow in that mistake and not get our heads straight that we tend to make more superfluous errors due to mental lapses. We see this in the NFL too, how often do we see a QB throw an INT and then come out the next series throwing check-down passes, rather than playing their typical game? It's important to have a short memory and a willingness to understand they'll be more opportunities, rather than giving too much gravity to that last misstep. As I said, I'm still not sure what I think about Newton's thinking here,