Before we get started, that headline is a total lie. If you clicked here to read my body language analysis, stop reading and go watch CNN. I just saw a body language “expert” breaking down the presidential debate last night… which I’m sure is riveting. Is there a more ridiculous thing around?
No, I’m not going to analyze body language.
What I am going to analyze is facts. Like, how Bears QB Jay Cutler was destroyed by Ndamukong Suh’s side suplex, only to return one play later and lead his team to victory. And words, which are what Panthers QB Cam Newton uses after each loss. Like how Newton said, “I think you can go around the locker room and expect more out of each and every person, number by number, including myself.”
Why do I bring this up? Let’s start with Cutler…
Remember that playoff game a few years back? When Cutler sulked on the sidelines, with a knee injury no one believed, and received criticism in one of the really early Twitter madness moments. And then he (gasp) walked up the stairs in a Chicago restaurant and got crushed locally. Because of that moment, in part because of Cutler’s demeanor on the sidelines — and in part because the Bears failed him by not disclosing the seriousness of his injury — we all thought Cutler was a wimp.
We question his leadership, anyway, (remember when he pushed his lineman??) so this was just one more nail in his coffin. Right? Well, that brings us to last night. Forget his demeanor. Focus on the fact that Cutler got obliterated and came back.
Cutler didn’t go to the locker room, though he could have, and he went right back in. Keep in mind, he seems to get hit as much as anyway, and he still comes back. This, it seems, is the realer Cutler.
Facts. Not our opinion of his body language. I’m glad Cutler got drilled last night with a legal hit by Suh, because it exposed a really bad habit we, as a public, have. We see one snapshot, draw a conclusion, then just think that’s it. Cutler coming back and showing some hardcore toughness hurt that view. Good. It will give us more perspective next time we judge.
As for Newton… that’s a different story.
I went on Miami radio yesterday and wound up defending him again. Sigh. I’ve done that in this space already. See, Cam is a sore loser. That’s not an insult, that’s just what he is. He sulks at his locker for 20 minutes after a loss, he gives press conferences that don’t hide his disappointment and sometimes, he says dumb things (like calling a reporter “sweetheart“). But nothing directs more criticism his way than looking like a sad dog after his team has lost.
When did we all become body language experts? Who decided that it’s OK for some people to be beyond themselves after a loss (like Bill Belichick is) but not others? I seem to be out on a limb here, as Cam is an easy target. The fact that he’s not playing well doesn’t help, either. But I see nothing wrong with his press conference demeanor. When I argue with people about this, they always tell me the same thing: He should stand up and be stoic after a loss. Again, why?
I’ve seen leaders, great leaders, and I know enough that they take different shapes and sizes. Will it hurt the Panthers players to see how much Newton cares about the game’s result? Or will it reemphasize how much he cares? If he wears his feelings on his sleeve, won’t that convince you that he’ll give his best effort to avoid that feeling the next time?
Mainly, Newton needs to play better. That’s reality. But showing how much he hates losing in press conferences or even in the locker room isn’t a bad thing. It’s just who he is. A bit of a sore loser. So? Makes me think he’ll do what he can to win as much as possible.