A day after Newton’s Panthers lost to the Denver Broncos 24-10, Francesa ripped the Carolina quarterback for not attempting to jump on his own fumble in the final minutes of the game and for walking out of his post-game press conference.
Trailing by six points with about 4 minutes left in the game, Newton was stripped of the ball by Denver’s Von Miller. Newton initially charged toward the ball but then pulled up instead of diving for the loose ball. The Broncos’ T.J. Ward ultimately recovered the ball and returned it to Carolina’s 4-yard line. Three plays later, C.J. Anderson scored on a 2-yard run that sealed the victory for Denver.
“How does Cam Newton not throw himself on that ball?” Francesa asked on his show. “I mean, you’re in the Super Bowl. This is not a preseason game. This is not a regular season game. And if you’re going to wear a Superman jersey onto the field, how are you going to act like Lois Lane when the ball’s there on the ground?
“That could be a game-saving play there. That ball is on the ground. It is loose. He did not go to the ground for the ball. When there was a flag thrown he didn’t like, he went down to the ground on that, rolled around on the sideline in a great display of immaturity, but how did he not go to the ground when the ball was on the ground?”
Later in his press conference, Newton gave mostly one-word answers before abruptly standing up and walking away.
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“After the game, if you are going to come out in a Superman jersey in front of the world, if you are going to come out in gaudy gold shoes, if all week you are going to say ‘no one’s ready for what I’m going to show you,’ then you can’t run away from the questions and walk off the podium after the game,” Francesa said. “You are the quarterback. After the game in the NFL, there’s two people that people want to hear from: the head coach and the quarterback. And if you want to be a big quarterback, you have to come up big in those painful spots.”
Francesa, however, didn’t focus all his criticism on Newton, saving some for the winning quarterback, Peyton Manning.
“The first guy you kiss can’t be Papa John. It can’t be!” Francesa said. “And if I see that as a commercial, I’ll throw up.”