Originally posted on Helmet2Helmet  |  Last updated 10/5/12

The last few weeks have not been kind to Cam Newton.

Underwhelming performances, coupled with a woe-is-me, sulking persona, has ignited criticism from fans, media, and even his own teammates. Just a year ago, Newton was tearing up the league as a rookie phenom. Now he’s made a mockery of — in his own town, no less. He’s found out the hard way that it’s not easy playing quarterback in the NFL.

Those record-breaking days must feel like centuries ago to the 23-year-old, who responded to critics this week, explaining (in some detail) how he’s handling the scrutiny.

“A lot of people deal with things differently. Losing is difficult. Period,” Newton said, via the Charlotte Observer. “A person that says losing is not difficult, I don’t even want to be around that person. And obviously, that person has never won anything relevant in their life. So for a person to say, ‘Yeah, we lost and we have to keep going.’ Yeah, you keep saying that, and sooner or later, you’re going to look up and be 0-16.

“So you have to take advantage of every opportunity you have in this league and you have to take it personal. Do I take it personal? Absolutely right. Do I take it too personal? Who knows? But I’d rather take it too personal than lackadaisical.”

There’s no denying Newton cares; he’s already admitted to being a bad teammate in 2011, and was making a conscious effort to improve his attitude. In the public eye, however, he feels he’s in a no-win situation — his highs are too high and lows are too low.

“I’ve been hearing a lot about ‘takes it hard on himself.’ Absolutely right. And I feel as if I was laughing after games, if I was making things a joke, I think people would take offense to that,” he said.

For the most part, Newton is right in the sense that he’s examined under a microscope. But he hasn’t done himself, or his team, any favors by imploding with crucial mistakes — three picks against the Giants, a back-breaking fumble versus the Falcons — that have contributed to the Panthers’ 1-3 record. And if he thinks the local media is rough, imagine how he’d handle the bright lights of, say, New York, where emotionally-fragile players (Mark Sanchez, I’m looking at you) rarely — if ever — succeed.

Truth is, Newton hasn’t been much of a leader this season, nor has he won over the locker room as a true franchise signal-caller. Luckily for Cam, though, there is a lot of football left to be played and many chances to rectify his mistakes.

If he wants the Superman nickname, then he needs to start defeating some villains, himself included.

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