Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been heavily scrutinized this week for his actions both on and off the field on Super Bowl Sunday.
Newton came under fire when he appeared to back away from a loose ball after fumbling in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. Then during his postgame press conference he gave mostly one-word answers before abruptly walking out on reporters, saying, “I’m done, man.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera apparently is not as concerned as fans and media members. In an interview with Pro Football Talk, Rivera defended his quarterback’s decision not to dive after his fourth-quarter fumble.
“I think he was looking for the rebound. When that group of guys came diving in, when it ricocheted backwards, he tried to turn and get after the ball,” Rivera said. “When you look at the circumstances he was looking at, I have no problem with that.”
As for Newton’s postgame surliness, Rivera said it simply was the result of the QB’s competitive nature.
Said Rivera, “The one thing about Cam that I think a lot of people have to understand is he hates to lose. He really does. And a lot of great ones have that.”
Rivers said the experience can all be used as a lesson for the future.
“Unfortunately, we just didn’t win the big one,” the coach said. “I think he’ll learn and grow from this situation and come back stronger next year.”