Andrew Touhy, Account Executive
If you didn’t happen to catch Cam Newton’s post-game presser, you probably heard about it. And if you’re the type that strayed away from the media frenzy surrounding the Super Bowl, here is a quick summary.
After the Panthers’ loss to Denver in last Sunday’s Super Bowl showdown, a sullen and frustrated Cam Newton, with his sweatshirt hood drawn over his head, reluctantly answered questions from reporters, and ignored others all together, before getting up and walking out.
His antics were met with a media fire, criticizing the probable league MVP for lacking resilience, leadership, and professionalism after coming up short in the biggest game of the young phenom’s career.
It was rumored on social media that Newton stormed out perhaps because he overheard boisterous Broncos players recounting their victorious game plan to the media, and gloating about their ability to shut down his air attack. Some reporters came to his defense calling for public empathy, noting that his age (he’s only 26), and the feeling that he let down his teammates and fans is reason enough to justify his post-game behavior.
And though a short press conference following a Super Bowl loss may seem insignificant and irrelevant in the mind of the Cam Newton’s of the world, that event, and the media fallout that occurred afterwards is a critical lesson in reputation management, media relations, and lost opportunity.
This past Tuesday as he cleaned out his locker, Newton came to his own defense telling reporters, “I’ve been on record to say I’m a sore loser. Who likes to lose? You show me a good loser and I’m going to show you a loser. It’s not a popularity contest. I’m here to win football games.”
But as we often advise our clients, in a crisis situation, or one like Newton’s, in which you do not get a desired result, there is still an opportunity, may it be a small opportunity, to tell your story before others tell it for you. If you’ve given the media nothing, you will let the narrative be crafted without your side of the story.
When you attain a certain level public status, whether it be the chairman of an sports organization, or the face of a team and league, you are going to be subjected to a much higher level of criticism. It may not be what you ‘asked’ for, but there is that old saying about being on top.
The general public does not have access to an individual of Newton’s status on an everyday basis, nor do they know what he is like ‘in real life.’ A short press conference following a Super Bowl loss then, is an opportunity for an individual to display his professionalism, his resilience in the face of defeat, and his leadership.
Though he may not have felt like talking to the media, he needed to provide answers commensurate to his status. Even the defense he provided later in the week would have demonstrated his passion and frustration. It would have showed his teammates and young fans that amidst great disappointment and frustration, he could still be trusted to lead.
Regardless how bright the spotlight or intense the scrutiny, you have to provide an answer.
The public did not expect him to smile and dance as he did all season long. He just lost the biggest game of his career; the disappointment speaks for itself. However, the public was waiting for his reaction because of his persona, charisma, and bravado. His sullen attitude and behavior does not prove that he hates to lose anymore than any other player, or that he cares more about the game; it just proves that he still has to mature and learn to better manage his reaction after a defeat. It means that he still has growing up to do. Being subjected to media scrutiny is just part of being a marquee superstar.