The Carolina Panthers had a rough night on Thursday against the New York Giants. In the first night game of his NFL career, Cam Newton threw 3 interceptions and got pulled late in the fourth quarter with Big Blue up by 29 points. With backup Derek Anderson taking snaps, Newton could be seen sulking as he sat on the bench.
As the team's leader, wide receiver Steve Smith felt like he needed to approach Cam and teach him "about the importance of remaining positive and handling adversity."
"I don't want to be passive and not do it because if I don't do it, who will?" Smith said. "The same way with my son; I can't expect somebody else (to do that). So, yeah, 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."
"I said, 'Get up and learn from this,' " Smith said. "I watched DA (Anderson) and Jimmy (Clausen) observe from the sidelines the last 20-something games and try to get mental reps. This is an opportunity for you to get some mental reps. Don't just sit on the bench and sulk. I know you feel bad, but that isn't going to help us."
"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," said the 32-year-old Smith. He said former Panthers wide receiver Ricky Proehl "did it to me a few times and maybe he was more subtle than I was. But you know what, if I sit back and say, 'Oh, look at Cam over there sulking,' or 'Look at this' or 'Look at that,' that's not going to do anything. I told him this is an opportunity for you to learn from this."
Newton declined to comment through the Panthers' public relations staff, but eventually, Cam will appreciate a guy like Smith, who's willing to play the "bad guy" for the betterment of the team.