Cam Newton was a bad teammate last season. Never mind the ridiculous numbers he put up and helped his teammates compile. Never mind the highlight plays. Never mind the Rookie of the Year award he earned.
He was a bad teammate and that needs to change.
Just ask him.
“I was very immature,” Newton said when asked about his sometimes moody reaction as losses piled up. “I’ll be the first one to tell you, the pouting and the moping, I kind of overdid it. I know that. I was a bad teammate. I shut off to some people who gave unbelievable effort. … That’s where I have to mature.”
Panthers QB Cam Newton (1) says he wants to be a better teammate in his second season. (AP)OK, seriously, this is sort of like Ray Allen complaining when one of his jump shots rattles in rather than hitting nothing but net. Or it’s like going to the Palace of Versailles and saying there were a few weeds in the garden.
Newton complaining about his postgame behavior in the face of some narrow losses misses the point. Fact is, anybody who saw the pre-Newton Panthers go 2-14 in 2010 will tell you just how much Newton helped changed the culture of the team in addition to helping boost its record to 6-10.
But this is one of the things Newton knows he has to work on if the full picture is going to come into focus. Newton doesn’t want to be some freakishly talented athlete who just puts up numbers and gets all sorts of attention. That’s why, even as he set one record after another, throwing 21 touchdown passes and rushing for 15 more, his attitude got increasingly dour.
After a 24-21 loss to Minnesota in Week 8, Newton was particularly angry. Eventually, the anger started to wear on teammates because, in some small respects, Newton was missing the bigger picture.
“Cam was angry because he thought he could and should make every play,” said wide receiver Steve Smith, who somehow may have met his match in the intensity department. Like Smith, Newton is unusually high-strung in a business filled with driven people.
“He has to realize you can’t do it all yourself. It’s like when someone drops a touchdown pass at the end of a close game. You can say that play cost the team a chance to win the game, but it didn’t cause the team to lose. As you get older in this game, you see how everybody has to do their job and how there are so many plays in a game that affect the outcome. As a competitor, you want the ball in your hands at the end to make the play, but you can’t do it all in football. You have to give other people a chance to make a play for you, to help you out.”