The Carolina Panthers quarterback and NFL MVP was well below par as his team lost Sunday's Super Bowl 24-10 to the Denver Broncos in Santa Clara, California, and his off-field performance was similarly poor after the defeat:
For NFL Network's Sanders, a Hall of Fame cornerback, Newton's actions were unacceptable given his status, per Yahoo Sports' Jay Busbee:
You are the face of our brand right now, you can't do that. I understand the emotions of losing, but you can't do that. A Manning, a Brady ... all these guys who are a prototypical type of quarterback in our game, they're not going to do that ever. Would Drew Brees ever?
You're opening yourself for more criticism. Because everybody is going to say you're dabbing and smiling and smiling and styling. So this is how you go out when you lose?
It's unsurprising Newton wasn't happy after the Levi's Stadium clash, not least because the Panthers had been favorites with the bookies in the lead-up to the Super Bowl.
The 26-year-old was expected to lead his team to glory, but instead, the Broncos prevailed thanks to their stellar defensive performance and Newton's bad day.
Newton gave up three turnovers in the game, including one early on that led to the opening touchdown from Malik Jackson. Here's that highlight, from the NFL on Twitter:
Newton completed just 18 of 41 passes for 265 yards and an interception.
The Atlanta-born star also took significant heat for failing to dive on a fumble in the fourth quarter, which led to Denver's recovery and rushing touchdown soon after, per NBCSN analyst Ross Tucker:
Cam Newton will never live that down— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) February 8, 2016
Here is the offending non-dive, per the NFL:
It was a bad night all around for Newton, and he failed to cover himself in glory afterward.
Faulk, who lost a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams in 2001, attempted to offer some perspective on NFL Network, per Busbee: "I've been on that podium in that very same seat. It's tough, it's hard. When I look back at how I handled it, I promised to never be that person again. Cam is going to learn from this."
Former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin couldn't relate to Newton's feelings, but he had some encouraging words on NFL Network: "I've never lost in a Super Bowl so I can't empathize. ... but I always say sometimes our greatest promise lies within our greatest pain. Cam is feeling a great pain right now, and maybe he can turn it around and get back to this game.
But Sanders was clearly unimpressed with Newton's behavior, no matter the situation, and he was not the only one. Fox Sports 1's Clay Travis summed it up:
Cam Newton's going to get crushed for that press conference. And he should. We'll see how he responds to real dislike now.— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) February 8, 2016
Newton's reputation undoubtedly took a hit Sunday, and he will have to work hard to live down his overall performance at Super Bowl 50.