Newton was coming off a loss Sunday to the Bears in which he threw for just 211 yards, with zero touchdowns and two interceptions, following a loss to the Eagles in which he had 239 passing yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Before that, the quarterback had seemed to right the ship after a rough three games to start the season, putting up big numbers in wins over the Lions and Patriots.
“Cam, big plays — big chunk plays — can get you that energy you’re talking about,” began a question to Newton on Wednesday. “Does this offense, and I know you had several in Detroit and New England, do you think you guys have the wherewithal to do that consistently, week in and week out?”
Newton didn’t answer the reporter, asking for another question before walking out.
“Cam didn’t intend to be discourteous toward any specific media member,” a Panthers spokesman said in a statement. “In his mind, after answering questions for nine minutes, he had fulfilled his obligations.”
The reporter who asked the question, Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, shares the Panthers beat with Jourdan Rodrigue, whose question about a wide receiver’s “routes” earlier this month elicited what many thought was an egregiously sexist response from Newton. The quarterback was widely criticized for that, losing a Dannon yogurt sponsorship along the way, and he eventually offered an apology, although he later described his offending comments as “sarcasm trying to give somebody a compliment.”
Rodrigue herself issued an apology after years-old social media posts emerged in which she used the n-word and engaged in racially insensitive humor, and she took some time off from the Panthers beat. When Rodrigue returned last week, Newton skipped his mandatory weekly news conference, with little explanation from the team.
Unhappy moments from the podium are not new for Newton, who received criticism for abruptly walking away from a news conference immediately following the Panthers’ loss in Super Bowl 50, after giving reporters notably terse answers. He offered a similarly sullen display after an October 2016 game, in which Carolina’s record fell to 1-5. In that episode, Newton stalked off just after saying, “Next question,” a scene he repeated Wednesday.
The seventh-year quarterback doesn’t have to relish taking questions from the media, but it’s a part of the job for which he is paid handsomely, and such behavior only raises more questions about his maturity.