Cam Newton spent a lot of last season sulking during tough times. This year, Carolina receive Steve Smith said he is not accepting that from Newton this year.
And so, he was upset when Newton sat sulking on the bench instead of getting up to watch backup Derek Anderson in the New York Giants’ shellacking of the Panthers Thursday night.
As a team captain and the elder statesman of the team, Smith said he believed something needed to be said to the 23-year old Newton about the importance of remaining positive and handling adversity.
“I don’t want to be passive and not do it because if I don’t do it, who will?” Smith said. “The same way with my son; I can’t expect somebody else (to do that). So, yeah, I lit into him because I thought it was an opportunity for him to see and understand what was going on. This is more than about playing football. It’s about becoming a man and understanding what this is.”
Newton declined comment through the team’s public relations staff. The team said he isn’t speaking until next Wednesday.
Players have the weekend off.
Coach Ron Rivera lifted Newton in the fourth quarter against the Giants after his third interception with Carolina trailing by 26 points. Rivera said he took out Newton because the game was out of hand.
After Newton was replaced by Anderson, Smith spoke to Newton on the bench.
“I said, ‘Get up and learn from this,’ ” Smith said. “I watched DA (Anderson) and Jimmy (Clausen) observe from the sidelines the last 20-something games and try to get mental reps. This is an opportunity for you to get some mental reps. Don’t just sit on the bench and sulk. I know you feel bad, but that isn’t going to help us.”
It’s the second straight year teammates have questioned Newton’s demeanor on the sideline.
Last year, offensive linemen Ryan Kalil and Jordan Gross both spoke to Newton in private about the importance of not getting down during a game.
“It’s about not missing an opportunity to give him some advice that maybe I didn’t listen to (when I was young) or maybe nobody told me,” said the 32-year-old Smith.
Smith said former Panthers wide receiver Ricky Proehl “did it to me a few times and maybe he was more subtle than I was. But you know what, if I sit back and say, ‘Oh, look at Cam over there sulking,’ or ‘Look at this’ or ‘Look at that,’ that’s not going to do anything. I told him this is an opportunity for you to learn from this.”