In defense of Cam Newton

AP Photo/Bob Leverone

I’m really not a fan of Cam Newton. But I’m going to defend him, even if few people want to go down that road right now.

And when I say I’m not a fan, I mean there are few people I’d want to hang out with less. He’ll be a Florida Gator to me until the day I die, and his act can get really old, really fast.

But he’s being crucified by the media, and I’m really not sure why.

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The Carolina Panthers’ quarterback has been a part of a 1-5 start to the 2012 season that has them sitting in dead-last in the NFC South. They’ve been atrocious, but four of their five losses have been by less than six points. Three of those five losses were to teams with four wins or more.

What the Panthers really need is a leader. Newton never claimed to be that guy; Carolina drafted him to be an exciting playmaker who could jump-start the offense. They couldn’t have seriously believed he’d be the kind of guy Steve Smith has been on the field — someone who will grab a teammate by the helmet and jolt them into lock-step with the rest of the squad.

But the media has locked in on Newton. They’ve made cartoons out of his struggles, and today, Fox NFL Sunday went after his behavior during the Panthers’ bye week. According to them, he was busy playing video games and riding go-karts during his one week off during the regular season.

Better than causing trouble in nightclubs, in my opinion. I’d prefer Falcons running back Michael Turner went home to play Madden 2013 instead of driving drunk after a late night at Magic City.

After their latest loss, a 19-14 defeat in Charlotte at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys, a frustrated Newton had a microphone stuck in front of him, and he went off. Told the media his team was boring. Said he didn’t want to deal with these excruciating losses. Suggested a coaching change needed to happen, whether it was offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski or someone else.

UPDATE: The Panthers have made their first firing Monday morning:

Those aren’t ideal comments for your franchise quarterback to be making when you’re trying to right the ship, but I understand his frustration. His numbers have hardly declined from a record-setting rookie season. Newton threw for 4,051 yards in 2011, and he’s on pace for 3,693 this year. He’s just off the pace of the 21 touchdowns he threw for last season. But the Panthers are also 1-5 — exactly what they were after six weeks a year ago — so the progression everyone was so sure would catch on with the 2012 Carolina Panthers isn’t happening.

Everyone is looking around for a fall guy, and it has been Newton. Now, the sophomore quarterback, who has never had to deal with losing in his life, isn’t taking it well.

I wonder why?

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