If you thought the flap over San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith's comments about Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton a few weeks back was the start of a feud that would linger for years, you missed the whole point by a mile.
Although some Carolina teammates got upset when Smith implied that Newton’s record-setting rookie statistics were overblown, Newton didn’t miss the point at all. In fact, without ever mentioning Smith’s name, Newton acknowledged the basic premise was right Tuesday when asked about his goals for the 2012 season. The question begged for a plural answer. Newton chopped it straight down to the singular.
“Winning,’’ Newton said. “That's all we play this game for is to get that W. That's it.’’
There was no mention of following up a 4,000-yard passing season with a 5,000-yard season. There was no mention of breaking his own record for rushing touchdowns in a season (14) by a quarterback. There was no mention of anything statistical at all. All Newton wanted to talk about was winning.
“In my job description, it says win at all costs,’’ Newton said.
See, no matter what the critics said about Newton before the Panthers took him first overall in the 2011 draft, and no matter how angered teammates and fans might have been about Smith’s comments, Newton truly is all about winning. He always has been and always will be.
“I’ll tell you this about Cam, everything about him is real,’’ said Carolina quarterbacks coach Mike Shula. “He’s the same with me, the other coaches, the other players, the media and everyone he interacts with. He’s just real all the time. And part of Cam being real is that he hates to lose as much or more than anyone I’ve ever seen. When he wins, he has a lot of fun. Winning equals fun in his life. That’s what drives him.’’