The NFL and its fans are used to hearing about feuds between a team’s star wide receiver and star quarterback. It’s nothing new. Everyone remembers the Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens saga that played out during their time with the Philadelphia Eagles.
However, the Carolina Panthers are not used to such controversy, which is why it was hard to fathom when it was reported that veteran receiver Steve Smith called out quarterback Cam Newton on the sideline late during Thursday night’s 36-7 loss to the New York Giants.
Smith made reporters aware after the game of an incident where he confronted Newton because he saw his quarterback sulking on the bench and not paying attention to the final minutes of action.
Smith claiming that is not how a leader is supposed to act, “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.”
Smith added, “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.”
Newton did not comment about the confrontation.
Smith makes a good argument for laying into Newton on the sideline; but was this just built up frustration from what took place on the field?
There is no doubt frustration played a role in this on Thursday night, though Newton’s sideline manner with a towel draped over his head, shielding his eyes and ears away from his teammates, is clearly becoming an issue.
Newton has indicated that the towel is a way for him to stay focused on the bench and let’s face it; it does give Newton a cool look.
The bottom line is that Smith is Carolina’s leader and he obviously felt obligated to share some words with his young quarterback.
Newton is a phenomenal football player with the potential to be great. He shouldn’t take Smith’s criticism personal. It’s Smith’s job to be a leader on and off the field. Newton can learn a lot from a player like Smith, who possesses a serious passion for the game.
This incident could and probably will strengthen their relationship going forward. At the very least, Panthers fans will learn a lot about Newton, when they see how he bounces back from the pounding he took on Thursday night.