If Cam Newton is wise, he'll take the following suggestion:
Shut your mouth and do your job. Popping off the way you did Sunday likely helped cost general manager Marty Hurney his job and, ultimately, that's not a good thing for Newton.
Whether Newton's statements following the Carolina Panthers' 19-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys directly led to Hurney's dismissal Monday can only be answered by owner Jerry Richardson. However, it's hard not to draw the conclusion publicly that Newton's comments factored into Hurney's ouster.
While there's plenty of fair criticism that can be lobbed Hurney's way following Carolina's 1-5 start, it's still a stunning reaction in light that Hurney helped bring a franchise quarterback to a team that has never really had one just 18 months ago.
Theoretically, Hurney and second-year coach Ron Rivera should have been in the process of executing a plan to build around Newton for years to come. But when the quarterback starts ranting about opening a "suggestion box" and undercuts his coaching staff with complaints about the "script," it's obvious that the group is anything but in marching formation. Instead, Newton has intercepted the baton and started leading the band in his own direction.
That's not good, particularly when Newton has the emotional leadership ability of a fifth-grader.
Let's make one thing clear: Cam Newton is the most important person in the rebuilding of the Carolina Panthers. He is a stunning talent and a guy who has already proven at the college level that he can carry a team on his back (check how quickly Auburn has fallen since he left).
Still, Newton has much to learn at the NFL level and that starts with his attitude. On Sunday, as highlights of his latest post-loss media session were played, CBS analysts Dan Marino and Boomer Esiason (two guys who have forgotten more about quarterbacking in the NFL than Newton knows) kept chanting, "You have to keep it positive."
That's not a plea for Pollyanna. Rather, it's a push for moderation. In the face of frustration, Newton needs to persevere, not throw people under the bus. That's exactly what his comments did on Sunday and Richardson obliged by getting rid of Hurney.
To wit, Newton said Sunday: "The past couple of games have been the same script, by the same director," Newton said. "It's kind of getting boring."
He went on:
"This taste, this vibe – I'm not buying it, man. And I don't know what it is, but something's going to have to change. Something's going to have to change real fast. … We just find a way to keep the game close just to see what happens at the end," Newton said. "I'm getting tired of it, and that's not a formula to win. Domination is a formula to win."
And then Newton offered an idea.
"I'm going to bring in a suggestion box," Newton said. "And I want your suggestions in that suggestion box, because I sure don't know. I really don't."
While there is nothing wrong with letting out frustration, Newton hasn't learned that you do that in private. You don't undercut your team in public. It's tawdry and juvenile. It doesn't speak to true leadership.
Again, this is not some full endorsement of Hurney. Over the past five years, Hurney has made his share of mistakes. The latest was reportedly paying $48.2 million in guarantees for three running backs (Carolina signed Mike Tolbert as a free agent and extending Jonathan Stewart's contract this year after paying DeAngelo Williams in 2011). None of those backs has turned out to be worth the money in a league that has steadily de-emphasized the position.
But when it came to doing the single-most important thing a GM can do – finding a quarterback – Hurney appeared to have hit big a year ago with Newton. Despite Newton's myriad of mistakes thus far (he has nine turnovers in six games, including two Sunday), he is still a dynamic talent.
At least that's how Hurney and many other people see it. The question now is whether the next GM will agree with that assessment. What Newton has done by undercutting those around him has been to open the door for a new set of eyes.
Whoever those eyes belong to may not see Newton as the hard worker that so many people in the organization believe he is. Whoever succeeds Hurney may not have much patience for Newton's post-loss histrionics.
In other words, be careful when you open the suggestion box. You might not like what people suggest.
Cam does need to grow up and be a lot less self centered. He needs to man up, quit moping, and be a true team player.