Dear Cam Newton,
When the clock stopped running at the end of the fourth quarter in Levi’s Stadium, we could all see the emotion from you and your team. Of course, none of us knows how it feels to go 15-1 and then lose the most important game. None of us know how it feels to be named offensive MVP and NFL MVP of the season, then lose the most important game. None of us know how nervous you must of felt to play in the 50th Super Bowl. None of us know what was, is, and will be going through your head.
I know that is not the ideal way to start a letter. I know you probably aren’t even sure why you’re still reading, but your performance and attitude tonight was a lesson for all of us young athletes with dreams.
Thank you Cam Newton. Thank you for showing us that the number one pick in the 2011 NFL draft can make it to the Super Bowl, lose, and get emotional. Thank you for showing us athletes that although you accomplished what most athletes never get to, you too get your hopes up and you too never stop dreaming. Thank you, Cam Newton, for giving us a professional athlete to look up to and relate to. Thank you for showing us that it is normal to get despondent after a loss.
Thank you for unknowingly being brave enough to keep playing professionally even when it seemed as though there was no way for your team to win. Thank you for walking up to Peyton Manning after the game and shaking his hand. Thank you for demonstrating the importance of sportsmanship to us student-athletes.
That simple act of kindness was significant to every athlete that has ever felt defeated, frustrated and miserable after a loss. It is possible to walk right off the field of play, like we’ve seen LeBron James do with seconds left to go in the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors in 2015 when he knew that his team couldn’t recover. Despite that, you put on your helmet and shook Manning’s hand, congratulating him. That courageous moment has been replaying in my head because it must have taken guts, and for that I have gained so much respect for you.
During the 2015-16 season, you showed us to be generous, as you always gave the scoring football away to a fan in the stands. You showed us to have fun doing what you loved. You taught a nation how to DAB, and gave small town athletes someone in the league to relate to. Leading up to the Super Bowl, you made it evident you did not want to attend some press interviews, but you still went, teaching us student-athletes the importance of dedication and to be successful you have to have endurance and patience through any given situation. You taught us that you could have the best season, and still lose when it mattered. This taught us no matter how hard you trained, sometimes it can not be enough. At the end of the Super Bowl, you normalized the feeling of disparity. Sitting at the sports bar with all of my athletic friends watching the game tonight, we could all recall a game were we felt the way your facial expression was conveying. You gave us someone to relate to.
So, thank you Cam Newton. Thank you for being brave and for putting on an amazing game. Don’t let all the memes on social media upset you, because you gave us student-athletes so much from this season.
– A student-athlete
by Raffaella Keshishian, student at McMaster University