After every Sunday in the NFL, there exist plenty of worthy storylines that paint a picture of what took place on the field. What decisions were critical and what plays changed the course of a game are just a few topics of discussion for fans and writers to hang their thoughts on until the following Sunday arrives.
However, when reports surfaced after the Carolina Panthers week four gut wrenching loss to the Atlanta Falcons that Panthers quarterback Cam Newton held up the team bus in Atlanta, the Newton haters came out in full force, attempting to portray Newton as an obnoxious, overzealous quarterback, caring little about his teammates.
Sunday’s 30-28 loss to the Falcons provided Panthers fans with plenty of discussion and questions to be answered. Should they have gone for it on fourth down? Did Newton’s fumble cost them the game? Did Carolina’s secondary play Matt Ryan’s 59 yard bomb to Roddy White correctly? All of these are questions everyone will and should debate, though one question lingers around Carolina’s biggest star.
Did Newton really hold up Carolina’s bus after Sunday’s game?
The short answer is yes. The long answer pertains as to why.
Newton did hold the team up on Sunday. In fact, Newton was allegedly the last player to leave the locker room. He was also the last member of the Panthers to speak to the media long after his team had boarded the bus.
Newton reportedly stood by his locker, appearing dejected. His team had just lost in the final five seconds to Matt Bryant‘s 40 yard field goal and Newton still had to face questions from the media.
Newton didn’t brush off his obligation to speak to the press and he didn’t back down from the responsibility that he carries with him every time he takes the field because he is the Panthers’ quarterback.
Newton played great against the Falcons, an impressive feat considering the beatdown he and his team endured in week three. He played great all the way up until he fumbled at mid-field on third down. The Panthers would recover the football, but the ball remained one yard short of the first down marker, leading the Panthers to punt instead of going for it on fourth down.
Newton took full responsibility when speaking to the media.
“So there’s no finger-pointing in this game, or especially not on this team, so if you’re expecting me to point somebody out or anything, you can point the finger at me,” he said.
“You know, in this league you have to protect the football. That was a key focus going into this game. There’s a lot of guys that’s trusting the ball carrier to get the job done, and I feel I dropped the ball on that.”
So yes, Newton held up the team bus. He wasn’t avoiding questions and dodging blame or pointing fingers. He was taking the scrutiny for his teammates following a heartbreaking loss, a loss some quarterbacks would let ruin their season. Not Newton, though. Expect Newton and the Panthers to bounce back from Sunday’s loss.
At the end of the day, the bus can wait a few more minutes because Newton is the quarterback.
Robert Kester, Carolina Panthers columnist. Connect @robertkester1.