CHARLOTTE, N.C. --Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton admitted he's a "sore loser'' in defending how he handled himself with the media after Sunday's loss to Denver in Super Bowl 50.
The newly crowned league MVP walked out on reporters after answering only a handful of questions, mostly with short answers, following the 24-10 loss. He did so while wearing the hood of a black hoodie pulled over his head.
"I've been on record to say I'm a sore loser,'' Newton said Tuesday as players cleaned out their lockers. "Who likes to lose? You show me a good loser and I'm going to show you a loser. It's not a popularity contest. I'm here to win football games.''
Newton said if he offended anyone, "that's cool."
He added: "But I know who I am and I'm not about to conform nor bend for anybody's expectations because your or anybody else's expectations will never exceed mine."
Newton hasn't spoken to the media in his previous four seasons on exit day, but he felt compelled to talk Tuesday amid the criticism. He said there were no regrets about how he handled himself after the loss.
"It happened,'' he said. "I didn't want to talk to the media at the time. The truth of the matter is I really still don't want to talk to the media. But at the end of the day, things have to happen.
"I had a lot of time to go back and play everything back. I'm human. I never once said that I was perfect. I never proclaimed that I was perfect, but at the end of the day, people pick and do things of that sort.''
Carolina coach Ron Rivera said criticism of Newton was unfair. While he might have preferred Newton handle the postgame differently, he didn't ask his quarterback to speak to the media on Tuesday.
Rivera commended Newton for that.
"Obviously somebody had a great conversation with him and explained it to him and he was able to compose himself and speak to you folks,'' he said. "That's huge. What he did today was a part of his growth. He is still growing and maturing as a man in this world.''
Asked why Newton is a target for criticism, Rivera said because people "don't know him.''
"If you took the time to know who Cam Newton is, if you saw all the things that he did, there would be much more of an appreciation for who he is as a person,'' Rivera said.
"People draw something on a snapshot. Don't take a snapshot. Take the whole album. Take time to read the whole book. ... This is a young man that some people are looking at the cover and they're looking at it the wrong way.''
General manager Dave Gettleman, in talking about Newton's postgame behavior, said one of the things he looks for in a player is somebody who "hates to lose.''
"We all handle things differently,'' he said. "It's hard.''
Several teammates gathered around Newton while he spoke and shouted "We love you!'' They also playfully sang: "Hurray for Cam! Hurray for Cam! Hurray for Cam, he's a horse's ass.''
One of those was fullback Mike Tolbert. He agreed with Rivera that criticism of Newton has been unfair.
"He's a competitor just like everybody else,'' Tolbert said. "You look at the guy. He's not happy at all about what happened. I'm not happy about what happened. I don't think anybody that played in this game was happy about what happened.
"So why should we be all smiles when the game is over?''
Newton smiled at his teammates' support, but otherwise was defiant in his defense of himself. "The truth of the matter is, who are you to say your way is right?'' he said. "That's what I don't understand. We've got all these people condemning, and saying he shouldn't have done this, that and the third. What makes your way right?''
Newton also was defiant in vowing the Panthers will return to the Super Bowl, reminding everyone they had only two losses all season, while some teams lost their first two games.
"I've got no more tears to cry,'' Newton said. "At the end of the day, when you invest so much time and sacrifice so much and things don't go as planned, the emotions take over. That's what happens.
"As far as trying to be like this person, trying to be like that person ... the truth of the matter is I'm not trying to be like this person.''
Newton said the league is great with him or without him, and that he doesn't plan to change.
"I said it since day one, I am who I am, I know what I'm capable of and I know where I'm going,'' Newton said. "I don't have to conform to anybody else's wants for me to do. I'm not that guy."
Newton also defended himself for not diving to try to recover his fumble in the fourth quarter that eventually was recovered by the Broncos. Denver went on to score a touchdown to put the game out of reach. Newton said that he would have risked injury by diving, as it would have meant he would have had to twist his leg in an awkward direction.
"I didn't get the fumble,'' Newton said. "We can play tit for tat. I've seen numerous quarterbacks throw interceptions, and the effort afterwards ... they don't go. I don't dive on one fumble, because of the way my leg was, it could have been [contorted] in a way.
"We didn't lose that game because of that fumble. I can tell you that.''
Cam Newton defends walking out of news conference