Cam Newton's eyebrow-raising comments about the Panthers franchise generated a small storm this week, but first-year coach Ron Rivera chalked it all up to his quarterback's innate desire to win football games.
"To me, the thing I like about it more than anything is it's important, it really is," Rivera told The Charlotte Observer. "It's the old saying that if you didn't put your heart into it, it wouldn't hurt. (Cam) does. He puts everything into it."
Newton told ESPN this week: "What happens when you take a lion out of the safari and try to take him to your place of residence and make him a house pet? ... It ainât going to happen. ... The house that I'm in is somewhat of a tarnished house where losing is accepted. ... I'm not trying to leave this place. I'm just trying to get everybody on my level."
Rivera didn't perceive Newton's words as boastful or a sideswipe at the franchise or its players.
"I didn't hear any of that," Rivera said. "Cam's approach to everything is 100 percent. You have to understand who he is. He is a young man that just doesn't like to lose."
Rivera is not alone. Wideout Steve Smith praised his young quarterback for telling it like it is, but Cam's honesty -- so early into his career -- did not sit well with others.
No matter. Rivera has made it clear that his student overstepped no boundaries, for Newton is the torchbearer of the new Carolina Panthers.