The New York Times deeply probed into the issue of Cam Newton and race in the weeks leading up to Super Bowl 50. So what was NYT’s reaction to Newton’s less -than-graceful-in-defeat postgame press conference?

Newton, 26, an ebullient, intelligent, gifted quarterback, decided to act in his moment of truth like a 13-year-old. He slouched into the interview room late, well after a number of his teammates, rookies and veterans alike, had gamely answered one painful question after another.

He took a seat, a blue sweatshirt hood pulled low over his face. He made eye contact with no one. What did he make of the game? Was he surprised? How could he explain? The reporters’ questions arrived one after the other, not a surprise in the batch, some framed as gently as if offered by dimwitted therapists. For more than a minute, he stared at the floor, scratched his chin, curled his lip and sulked.

…Newton has fine mentors from which to learn grace, among them the Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon, who endured years of racially tinged self-imposed exile in Canada in the 1980s before an N.F.L. team consented to allow him to take snaps and lead a team.

Newton’s talents are many. His challenge is to prove himself equal to leading his fine team.

Let’s not forget—as N&R ed page editor Allen Johnson points out– former N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson, who had to answer more than a few difficult questions in the wake of the Seahawks’ devastating loss to the Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl.

My opinion–for what it’s worth—I understand Ron Rivera’s logic in choosing to kick off after winning the coin toss— having the last possession of the first half–which the Panthers—and the first possession of the second half can be a huge momentum-builder.

But it was so crucial in this game to get out of the gate quickly and possibly catch the Broncos defense back on their heels for at least one series. Had the Panthers done so, it might have been a different game.