Cam Newton needs to stop trying to be somebody he's not and get back to being the polarizing superstar fans came to love during his rookie season.
We all understand the mounting pressures on Newton following a storybook beginning to his career. This man is used to success after doing it all in college and setting record after record as an NFL rookie in 2011.
The pressures to meet expectations were there during his rookie year, but that Cam Newton was far more determined to prove his critics wrong by any means necessary. That's what it was always about with Cam—defiance. The motivation of sticking it to all the naysayers helped push him to greatness.
This season, Newton cares way more about complying with his critics in the media. Look no further than his response to critics, via Chicago Tribune's Dan Pompei:
'I just keep living life,' Newton told Chicago reporters Wednesday in a conference call about the Bears-Panthers game Sunday. 'I understand I'm not perfect. I'm striving to be great. Whatever people may think, or whatever people may criticize me on, I take it for what it's worth, and continuously try to make myself better each and every opportunity I get.'
Newton's remarks were intelligent and mature, but far too passive for a player that desperately needs to unleash some aggression.
Cam is also one of the most socially aware players in the game, but that awareness appears to be a double-edged sword, as evidenced by remarks from Charlotte Observer's Scott Fowler's recent piece on the Panthers' quarterback.
As for getting criticized for immaturity, lack of leadership or simply not playing as well, Newton said: 'One thing that I’m not going to do is I’m not going to worry what people think of me in this setting. Because I guarantee you, if I was cussing everybody out and we’re 6-0: ‘Oh, that’s just Cam being Cam.'
'You’ve got the likes of Mike Tyson, Dennis Rodman, Charles Barkley – guys who have gone on and had that M.O. (and were able to get away with it, because they won).'
While Newton is smart to say he's not worrying about the criticism, it's evident that the first half of the season has taken a toll on him. Considering his success, a sophomore slump loomed overhead, but so did the incredible pressure of being one of the faces of the NFL and having to carry an entire franchise on his shoulders.
Bottom line, Newton is as talented as any player in league history. His skill set is already among the best in the league at his position, but it's the mental aspect that is holding him down in year two.
We need that "Cam Swag" back—the same swag we saw when he called out Calvin Johnson to get on the cover of Madden. That's the killer instinct we love to see out of him because it used to translate onto the field.
That same killer instinct has yet to be seen in 2012, but he has the ability to turn things around quickly as long as he brushes off the media and plays like a man possessed.
Nobody should hold it against Newton for sulking with a towel over his head or refusing to open his eyes at a press conference after a loss. These actions show passion and heart.
However, commenting on what critics are saying about him is unnecessary and will only continue to distract the young signal caller. Cam will never dispel critics with his words—it's all about his play on the field.