Cam Newton has been under fire for not appearing to attempt to recover a fumble late in Super Bowl 50. Rather than pile on, we asked four men who took snaps on the NFL’s biggest stage to see what they’d have done.
I’ve never played quarterback in the NFL. You’ve never played quarterback in the NFL, probably. And yet, we all seem to know what should’ve been going through Cam Newton’s mind when, down six in the fourth quarter, Broncos linebacker Von Miller swatted the ball out of his right hand on third down.
Get the ball! It’s the freakin’ Super Bowl!
But that’s not what Newton did. He waffled. He peered. He took two half-steps, then a hop back and watched DeMarcus Ware drop his big paw on it. The Denver recovery at the Carolina 4-yard line led to an easy touchdown and sealed a 24-10 victory in Super Bowl 50. Hypothetically, a Panthers recovery followed by a punt and a three-and-out by the Broncos would have given Newton the ball with something like three minutes remaining, down 6.
Phil Simms, the former Giants quarterback of 14 years and current CBS color man, echoed what America was thinking during the broadcast. “I guess he made a decision it wasn’t worth (it) to go in there and get it,” Simms said. “Should’ve dove in. Had a chance to recover it.”
After the dust settled, Simms addressed his colleague, Jim Nantz: “Jim, when you see that football on the ground, no matter the situation, but especially the Super Bowl, you have to go in there and get that recovery.”
After a pouty post-game press conference, Newton would go on to explain a day later: “I didn’t dive on one fumble because the way my leg was (positioned). It could have been contorted in a way. You say my effort? I didn’t dive down. I fumbled—that’s fine. That’s fine. We didn’t lose the game because of that fumble.”
I have my own feelings about that statement, which we’ll get to later. First, let’s hear from four guys belonging to the fraternity of 58 men who have actually been in Newton’s position—four Super Bowl starting quarterbacks who watched the play in hi-def and came away with four different opinions.
“It’s a weak explanation,” says Joe Theismann, winner of Super Bowl 17 and loser of Super Bowl 18 with Washington. “The game’s about effort. And certainly he was under tremendous duress the entire game. But to come up with that excuse? … He has to grow up. There’s no question its all about him. Did anybody doubt that this entire season was about him?”
Another Super Bowl quarterback, who asked not to be named, said the choice to pursue a fumble recovery or an interception return with less than 100% effort is a choice all quarterbacks make, but not in the Super Bowl—not in the final quarter of an elimination game.
SOURCE: Robert Klemko
Sports Illustrated | Monday Morning Quarter Back