Quarterback Cam Newton, who had been flamboyant, larger than life and eager to become the new face of the NFL, was muted and sulky after the Carolina Panthers lost to the Denver Broncos 24-10 in Sunday’s Super Bowl 50.
Newton on why the Panthers didn’t perform the way they had earlier in the playoffs: “They outplayed us.”
On what coach Ron Rivera said in the locker room: “He told us a lot of things.”
On if Denver did anything differently on defense: “Nothing different.”
On if he can put his disappointment into words: “We lost.”
On whether Denver changed anything to take away the Panthers’ running lanes: “No.”
Then Newton, who was sacked seven times by the Broncos, shook his head and walked away from the podium.
Some reporters felt Newton was upset not only at the loss but because he was being drowned out by Broncos players being interviewed a few feet away. As Newton was speaking, Denver cornerback Chris Harris was discussing how the Broncos defended Newton and the Panthers’ offense.
Because there are so many reporters at the Super Bowl, the postgame interviews can’t be done in the respective locker rooms, as is the case with other games. The marquee players – Newton and the Broncos’ Peyton Manning and Von Miller, for example – are taken to another area, where each has his own podium.
The problem is that players from both teams are taken to the same area where they are within earshot of each other.
After the 49ers’ most recent Super Bowl in New Orleans, for example, linebacker NaVorro Bowman was giving his postgame comments when Ravens safety Ed Reed arrived and loudly conducted his own celebratory interview, which included singing. The teams were separated only by a curtain.
Bowman and the 49ers did not storm off as Newton did, but Bowman was visibly upset.
The situation Sunday seemed unnecessary in a stadium with so many rooms and spaces that the Panthers could have made their comments on one side of the facility and the Broncos on the other.
Unless you were next to Newton’s podium, you couldn’t hear him.
His actions make him look childish, but the NFL’s post-Super Bowl system is pretty silly, too.