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Sports Medley: Is Cam Newton a Coward? 15 Feb 16

by Tony Medley

For the defense: Nobody who takes the field in an NFL game, brutal as it is and filled with fiends like Aqib Talib and Vontaze Burfict who would rather injure someone than tackle him, could possibly be called a coward. Defense rests.

For the Prosecution: “Cowardice” is defined as somebody regarded as uncourageous. Newton fulfills this definition. Examples:

  1. After the Super Bowl, Newton attended his press conference dressed in a hoodie. Head down, his muttered answers were monosyllabic and self-centered, before he stormed off the stage in a pout after only a couple of minutes. Two days later, instead of apologizing, he defended himself, saying, “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser,” quoting Vince Lombardi. In his egoism, Newton begged the question. Nobody likes to lose. But it takes courage to put on a brave face and accept defeat with charm and class (See Russell Wilson and a multitude of athletes), and save the suffering and anguish for when they are alone. All-time tennis champion Roger Federer broke down in tears on the stand after losing an Australian Open final. But he still answered questions and struggled to be pleasant. Hemingway defined class as grace under pressure. Newton lacked that courage and class.
  2. With four minutes left in the game and his team trailing by six points Newton fumbled the ball on third and 10 on his own 18 yard line. The ball was at his feet with an opponent’s arm reaching for it. All Newton had to do was fall on the ball to recover. His team still had a chance to win. Great quarterbacks (and let’s not forget that Newton was the newly crowned MVP of the NFL) can drive the length of the field in less than two minutes. Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger dive for fumbles all the time, even when the game isn’t on the line, as do virtually all other quarterbacks in the league. RGIII put himself back in a playoff game several years ago when he could barely walk, knowing he was going to be hit. That’s courage. But Newton backed off, saying later that he feared injuring his leg (poor baby!), allowing his opponents to recover the ball inside his 5 yard line and his team’s chance of winning was dead. With four minutes left in the biggest game of the year, Newton’s running away from the ball was the most uncourageous, ergo cowardly, act I’ve seen in over a half century of watching sports.

Prosecution rests.

Getting Personal: One reader objected to my article on the Super Bowl as “sour grapes.” I inquired, “How can it be sour grapes if I couldn’t care less who wins?” The only time I make predictions is for the NFL playoffs and I do that because I have a very good track record. This year I picked 7 right out of 11 games, my second worst performance to date, but 3 of my 4 misses were picking Denver to lose. If they played again at sea level and with competent referees, I would still pick Denver to lose to Pittsburgh, New England, and Carolina because I think Denver is an extremely weak team despite its superior defense, not as good as the three teams that it beat.

On the rare occasions when I do have a rooting interest, I reveal it in my column. This year in the Carolina-Arizona game I said I was rooting for Arizona, even though I picked Carolina. Several years ago when I picked the Jets (who won both games), I said in the column that I was making a biased pick because I wanted the Jets to win. In the Super Bowl and just about every NFL game I watched all year long, I didn’t care who won. When I have a bias, I reveal it.

Finally, it’s not “sour grapes” to say that I think Denver would lose all three games if they were replayed at sea level with competent referees (if any could be found; ay, there’s the rub). That’s not that I have anything against Denver or that I have some emotional attachment to the other teams. It’s just what I think.