Cam Newton spoke to the media on Tuesday, his first time doing so since cutting his postgame Super Bowl press conference short. He confidently shot back at all the criticisms being lobbed at him since the Panthers' disappointing 24-10 loss to the Broncos.
"Pretty much everything that people say about us is fluff," he said, via Black and Blue Review. "They say Cam's a thug, players on the team are classless."
"I've said it since day one: I am who I am, I know what I'm capable of and I know where I'm going," he later added, via WCCB Sports' Jeff Zell. "I don't have to conform to anyone else's wants. I'm not that guy. If you want me to be this type of person I'm not that and I'm happy to say that. I am my own person and I take pride in that."
Newton stood at his Panthers locker and answered questions about his lackluster Super Bowl performance, his fourth quarter fumble and his decision to not speak to the media after the game.
Cam: I'm on record as being a sore loser. I hate losing. You show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) February 9, 2016
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera expressed a similar sentiment while speaking to the media afterward.
"I'd much rather have a guy who hates to lose than a guy who accepts it," he said. Rivera added that he and rest of the Panthers respect Newton and accept him for who he is, and lamented that Newton didn't had to speak to the press right after a loss.
"Time is probably the best thing," Rivera said. "In some circumstances maybe it'd be better to give people a bit more time to collect their thoughts and then their emotions."
Newton completed just 18 of his 41 passes on Sunday, for a total of 265 yards. He was also sacked six times and turned the ball over three times. Two of those turnovers came on fumbles, the second of which came late in the fourth quarter and became a controversial play. Replays appeared to show Newton electing not to dive for the ball despite it being within his grasp.
"I don't dive on one fumble because the way my leg was -- it could have been (contorted) in a way," Newton said, via the Charlotte Observer's Joe Person. "OK, you say my effort. I didn't dive down. I fumbled. That's fine. But we didn't lose that game because of that fumble. I can tell you that."
He added that he didn't care if other people accused him of quitting, as long as his Panthers teammates and coaches know that he didn't.
"(It was) an unbelievable season. We did what a lot of people didn't think we could do," Newton added, via Max Henson of the Panthers' official website. "We will be back, and I mean that."
Now that he's finally broken his relative silence, it's at least clear that the Newton who isn't afraid to speak is mind is back.
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