A late-game fumble from Cam Newton in Super Bowl 50 -- with the Panthers attempting to drive down the field and trailing by 6 points -- is under heavy criticism after it appeared Newton backed away from the football.
It turns out, Newton was indeed worried about being injured. During a Tuesday media session with reporters (where he blasted people who criticized his postgame press conference), Newton said he was worried his leg "could have been contorted in some way."
"OK I didn’t get the fumble. We can play tit-for-tat. I’ve seen numerous quarterbacks throw interceptions and their effort afterwards and they don’t go. I don’t dive on one fumble because the way my leg was, it could have been contorted in some way," Newton said. "OK you say my effort? I didn’t dive down. I fumbled, that’s fine. That game wasn’t built off of — we didn’t lose that game because of the fumble, I’ll say that."
"You can condemn and say he gave up, he did this, that and the third," Newton said. "But as long my teammates know, as long as my coaches know, as long as anyone that’s following this team knows … it’s easy for a person to nitpick and say, oh man, Cam gave up. That’s fine. I’m a grown man, I can understand it."
"But to say things along the lines of that and to say it to my face, that’s extremely different."
So, technically this was a "business decision"? And technically the Broncos players who said Newton was playing for "next year" aren't wrong either?
It's not that simple, really.
First of all, Newton was right about one fumble not causing the Panthers to lose. There were a lot of things prior to the fumble leading to the Panthers being in a position to lose.
And, look, Newton regularly sacrifices his body while playing football. It's not like this is some guy who isn't willing to lay it out there. He also knows his body better than anyone else in the world.
And at least one Broncos player (safety T.J. Ward) said he was "gonna hit him right in his face" if Newton touched the ball.
"If he would have touched that ball, I was gonna hit him right in his face, and I wasn't the only one," Ward said.
Nevermind Ward's been responsible for several different major injuries because of hits.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera was asked about the explanation Cam provided and didn't offer an opinion.
"I haven’t talked to him about that. I really haven’t," Rivera said. "If that’s his explanation than that’s his explanation."
Instead, the Riverboat is floating onto next year.
"I’m OK with his explanation," Rivera said. "It’s over, it’s done."