Every time I see an article this offseason about QB Cam Newton 'proving his critics' wrong I think 'that will never happen'. After all, Haters are going to hate. Looking back at some of pre-NFL criticisms I can't help but wonder how some people got it so wrong. So wrong that how could they ever back track on it? Some of the things said were obviously driven by some type of bias (which I'm not going to guess at) that record setting stats aren't going to alleviate. So my attitude towards Newton's critics at this point is a mixture of 'Give him time' and 'Go suck it!'.
Yet as it turns out Newton has a #1 critic and this one I hope he does satisfy some day: Himself:
Newton could have made it a point to say "I told you so," to his critics after last season. He didn't. When he's asked about it, he just smiles knowingly. "The thing is I don't play this game to prove nothing to nobody but myself," Newton said. "I've said it once and I'll say it again, there are a lot of expectations out there for Cameron Newton but none of them are going to ever exceed what I want for myself. And that's how it is going to be until I'm no longer able to play this game."
Now in my roughly 35+ years of watching professional sports for entertainment I have heard many a pro athlete interview and can smell a canned interview a mile away. Most are full of classic coach-speak like its ripped straight from a Vince Lombardi locker room speech.
Newton's interviews are not much different but I have noticed a common theme. He wants more from the game and his drive is not based on 'proving his critics' wrong. No, instead it is driven by what the very thing that impressed Marty Hurney during the pre-draft evaluations:
Cam Newton needs to be himself - NFL Nation Blog - ESPN
"The first thing that struck me when I first met him was his desire to win and to be the best player and the best quarterback he could be,’’ Hurney said. "He has a great concept of the history of the game and where he wants to fit in. He knows that if he wants to fit where he wants to fit, that he has to win games to do that. He knows that winning defines where he fits.’’ Where does Newton want to fit? "I think he wants to be the best,’’ Hurney said.
I think the main reason Cam Newton did not respond to Alex Smith's criticisms (besides the fact its not really his style) is that he essentially agreed with Smith's point. Stats are nice for fans and front offices but it the wins that really count and Newton knows that. You can't be the best without winning and winning the big one at that.
I no longer feel like winning the Super Bowl is a pipe dream. It's actually only a matter of time...or Mr. Newton the critic will never be happy with Cam.