Barry Saunders

Saunders: Cam Newton needs to grow up – he doesn’t need lectures from Rob Lowe

Pot, meet Rob Lowe.

Lowe, the actor who is as well-known for a sex tape he starred in with a teenager as he is for any big screen acting role, jumped onto Twitter to slam Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton for not being a suitable role model because of his taciturn post-Super Bowl interview performance.

You read that right: Rob Lowe criticized Cam Newton for not being “classy.”

Yep, this is the same Lowe fellow who went on Twitter to poke fun at France immediately after the terrorist attack last year – “Oh, NOW France closes its borders!” – and who, most infamously, had to pay a lot of money to the parents of the 16-year-old with whom he’s seen on tape in flagrante delicto. They reportedly accused him in their lawsuit of using his celebrity status to induce the girl into engaging in “sexual intercourse, sodomy and multiple party sexual activity.”

Talk about classy.

Sorry, Rob, but Schadenfreude, pearl-clutching and finger-wagging don’t look good on you.

Newton, loquacious and loud in victory, absodanglutely should have faced the questions following the loss. As other professional athletes who have sat in the same seat – answering tough questions after losing the biggest game of their careers – noted, the temptation to flee is strong. You can’t do, it, though.

As the great Tom T. Hall sang “I love winners when they cry, losers when they try ...”

Nobody loves losers when they pout and toss off monosyllabic bromides, though.

A TV sports reporter I know, one who did not cover the Super Bowl, said it best: Cam needed to understand that he was not answering questions just for those few minutes. He was answering them for 30, 40 years from now, when his grandkids look online and see how he handled the biggest disappointment of his life.

Forget his performance during the game: he was, after all, going up against the best defense in the league and it showed.

It was his performance after the game that is indefensible.

So, too, is Lowe’s jerkish Twitter response. “Wow. What a press conference from Cam Newton,” he wrote. “So gracious! So classy! So humble! What an example to kids. Just like Peyton.”

Sure, Rob. Cam should’ve said he was going to drown his sorrow in copious amounts of Budweiser, only to have it revealed later that he owns parts of Anheuser-Busch distributorships. Sunday’s game was the first time I have ever rooted against Manning in a big game – so of course he wins that game – but his apparent shilling for a beer company in what may be the denouement of a brilliant, classy career doesn’t seem particularly classy.

Lowe, in time-honored celebrity fashion, entered rehab for a substance abuse problem soon after the sex tape came out and briefly interrupted his career ascent: it soon resumed. I watched him five years ago when he told Oprah that the leaked sex tape was “the greatest thing that ever happened to me” because it led him to rehab for his drinking.

Hooray – non-facetiously hooray – for him. Couldn’t he, though, have given Newton the benefit of the doubt and figured that he’ll learn from his subpar post-game performance, that this low point, too, may prove to be the greatest thing that ever happened to him? Just as Lowe has apparently grown from his behavior as a very young man in that Atlanta hotel room, can’t he wait to see if Cam grows from his indisputably dour post-game performance?

As for being a role model, where is it written that being a great athlete – or a pixie-ish actor with an impish glint in your eye – makes you one?

Cam has volunteered that he wants to be a role model, and this gives him a perfect opportunity to come out and tell kids he messed up after the game. If I were him, I’d call the incredibly handsome – if you squint really hard after drinking copious amounts of Budweiser – columnist whose number is listed below so he can get the message out to them.

After all, athletes must learn that it’s not whether you win or lose – it’s whether you’re suitably humble to satisfy Rob Lowe.