CHARLOTTE – Amid criticism for the way he handled defeat in Super Bowl 50, quarterback Cam Newton spoke to the media extensively at his locker during check-out day Tuesday.
"Obviously, I had a lot of time to think about it. I've seen so much blown out of proportion," Newton said. "But at the end of the day, when you invest so much time and you sacrifice so much and things don't go as planned, emotions take over. That's what happens. As far as trying to be like this person or that person, I heard numerous quotes about, 'What if this person was in that situation? How would he have handled it?' Truth of the matter is I'm not trying to be this person or that person. I've said it since Day One – I am who I am. I know what I'm capable of and I know where I'm going. I don't have to conform to anybody else's wants for me. I'm not that guy, and I'm happy to say that. This league is a great league with our without me. I understand that. I am my own person. I take pride in that, and that's pretty much how I feel.
"I had a lot of time to play everything back, and like I say, I'm human. I never once said that I was perfect. I never proclaimed that I was perfect. People pick and do things of that sort, but the truth of the matter is, who are you to say that your way is right? That's what I don't understand."
On being a sore loser: "I've been on record to say I'm a sore loser. Who likes to lose? You show me a good loser, and I'm going to show you a loser. It's not a popularity contest. I'm here to win football games for this organization, for Mr. Richardson, for my teammates and my fans. They know what's real. I leave everything on the field. I prepare the right way. I have a standard that I set for myself, and I'm not going to bend nor break."
On going after his late fumble: "I didn't get the fumble, but we can play tit-for-tat. I've seen numerous quarterbacks throw interceptions, and their effort afterwards, they don't go. I don't dive on one fumble, because the way my leg was it could have been contorted. You say my effort? I didn't dive down. I fumbled, that's fine. But we didn't lose that game because of that fumble, I can tell you that."
On 2015 success and looking forward:"We had an unbelievable season and we did what a lot of people didn't expect us to do. We've got two losses. Some teams had two losses the first two weeks.
"We will be back, and I mean that. We will be back. I say that with so much emphasis. I know who I am and I'm not about to conform to anybody's expectations, because yours or anybody else's expectations will never exceed mine."
Head coach Ron Rivera and general manager Dave Gettleman also shared their take on Newton's postgame reaction.
Said Rivera: "Losing is not an easy thing. He really does not like to lose. I understand who he is. Time will heal it for him. He'll be able to handle it, which he did today.
"That's who he is. He hates to lose, and that's what you love in him. I'd much rather have a guy that hates to lose than a guy that accepts it. The guy that accepts it, you might as well just push him out of your locker room, because you don't want him around. He wants to win, and his teammates know it. He'll do anything he can to win. That's what it's about.
"I'm proud of who he is as a competitor and a football player. Do I wish he handled it better or differently? Yes. But that's who he is, and I understand who the young man is for us.
"I don't think it's fair. People draw a conclusion off a snapshot. Don't take a snapshot – take the whole album. Take time to read the whole book. There's that great saying, 'Don't judge a book by its cover.' This is a young man, I think, that some people are looking at the cover and looking at it the wrong way."
Rivera said he had no issue with the way Newton reacted to his second fumble.
Said Gettleman: "Everybody wants to win. I want players that hate to lose, plain and simple. I want players that I know when the game is over, they are crawling into the locker room and they need help getting their gear off and it's going to take them time to get in the shower and get cleaned up. I want the buses to be late for the airport if we're travelling. Everybody reacts differently, and unfortunately, at the end of the day we didn't get it done."
Take a look at the career of quarterback Cam Newton in photos.