Cam Newton's center, Ryan Kalil said of last Thursday's 36-7 loss to the New York Giants, "It was a frustrating night for everybody, really embarrassing for everybody."
Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera echoed those sentiments, "We've got to realize and understand exactly what happened in that football game and learn from it."
Later, Rivera added, "This was a national audience, a big stage. I know in four of the last five we hadn't done very well, now make it five of the last six. We've got to break that pattern."
Words matter little in this sport, this business that is the NFL. As in many things we find in life, it is actions that define us. Actions will demonstrate one's true nature, their character, for anyone watching to take notice of.
Rivera's right, of course. The Carolina Panthers have fallen into a pattern. A lot can be made of 'season-ending streks' whether they be wins or losses. Many will refute the fact that such streaks can carry over from season to season. Ask a veteran of the NFL and you're likely to get another story.
I think that the star, the face, if you will, of the Panthers, is quarterback Cam Newton. He's still in his NFL career infancy. This Sunday's game against the Falcons will only be his twentieth in the league. He is surely feeling pressure not only to win more games this year, but to lead more this year. Heaviest of all, he's expected to equal or even better his rookie season performance. That's a lot to ask of a 23 year old young man.
He's up to it, though. He just needs to relax, deep breathe, and play the game he's played so naturally his whole life. It is not all on his shoulders, he's got a team around him for a reason: Football isn't just a one man game.
So humble yourself, Cam. Accept that the Giants beat you and your Panthers, then move on. Playing the "they didn't beat us, we beat ourselves card" really only works if the score was close. When you lose 36-7, guess what? THEY BEAT YOU.
Humility comes when instead of making self-deprecating statements, you instead own a defeat. You own the defeat by acknowledging you were beaten, fair and square. Then, if you must make statements, keep it simple with one sentence:
"We're going to do better next time."