On Sunday night, after suffering the biggest—and most public—disappointment of his professional career, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton appeared at a press conference. His team had just lost the Super Bowl to the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos, with Newton, the league MVP, turning his worst game of the season.
Naturally, he wanted none of it. Newton appeared crestfallen and disengaged, and, after being badgered with variations of the same question three times, he walked out of the presser prematurely.
It was an ungracious act, to be sure, but a pretty understandable one given the gravity of his situation. Nevertheless, Newton was met with heaps of criticism online—including a racist jab by retired linebacker Bill Romanowski, one of the dirtiest players in NFL history with a penchant for racist behavior. He was also criticized by the actor Rob Lowe, an avowed Colts (and Manning) fan who squired his son to the game sporting matching Manning’s No. 18 jerseys.
Now Lowe, who also apparently enjoys hobnobbing at New Orleans Saints games with the hatemonger-stars of Duck Dynasty, was immediately taken to task by many on Twitter for insinuating that Newton was a bad example to kids:
In 1988, a 24-year-old Lowe found himself mired in controversy when it emerged that he’d videotaped himself having three-way sex with a 16-year-old girl and a 22-year-old woman in Atlanta, Georgia. On July 17, 1988, the night before the Democratic Convention—Lowe had been campaigning on behalf of Michael Dukakis—he went clubbing with fellow Brat Packers Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson, before picking up the two women and taking them back to his hotel.
While the age of consent was 16 in Georgia, it was illegal to videotape the sex. Lowe ultimately settled with the girl and served a meager 20 hours of community service for the act. Despite the tabloid-ready scandal, it didn’t do much to harm Lowe’s career, with the actor going on to star in some of the biggest comedies of the ’90s—Wayne’s World, Tommy Boy, and Austin Powers—and later the NBC series Parks and Recreation. He now stars on Fox’s The Grinder.
As for Newton, the criticism against his press conference walkout seemed like the epitome of a racial double-standard, given the way previous walkouts by white QBs have been handled by the media and public. For example, when New England Patriots QB Tom Brady not only walked out of a presser, but—gasp!—cursed after a tough loss to the Miami Dolphins in 2013, the sports-loving press and public barely lifted a Twitter finger.
Oh, and while we’re comparing Newton and Manning, Lowe’s paragon of virtue, though Newton did have a highly publicized run-in with the law in college after swiping a fellow student’s laptop (for which he paid a very heavy price), that pales in comparison to what Manning did while at the University of Tennessee.