Cam Newton came out after Sunday’s game and flatly said he doesn’t get the protection afforded other quarterbacks by the NFL. If you watch the film…it appears he’s right.
I have no particular interest in what Cam Newton had to say after Sunday’s game with the Arizona Cardinals…except, from all appearances he’s right and it remains to be seen if the NFL does anything in response.
What Newton said was that because he’s 6’6″ and 250 pounds, without question the most imposing athlete among all the league’s quarterbacks, the league officials allow opposing defenses to take repeated shots at his head and body…without recourse of being penalized.
“It’s really taken the fun out of the game for me,” he said afterward. “Honestly, it really has. Because at times, I don’t even feel safe.”
And in particular Newton was upset over a hit by Arizona defensive end Calais Campbell who hit him below his right knee in the pocket after a pass near the goal line. The contact seemed to violate a rule the NFL has tried to strengthen in recent years, one that prohibits rolling or lunging to hit a quarterback in the pocket at or below his knee. But referee Walt Coleman’s crew did not make a call, and Newton could hide his disgust no longer.
“Enough is enough,” said Newton. “It’s horse—-, and I plan on talking with Roger Goodell about this.”
Goodell has other officiating issues to consider besides Newton’s complaint, because there seems to be more questions than answers this year over the consistency of calls…when, why, and why not.
But if the NFL is concerned, too, about its flagging popularity and television ratings, so too should it be concerned over the message sent over what looks to be lack of concern over the safety of its players beyond the obsession with concussions and head trauma protocol. It is a “man’s” game, we all know that and it always has been.
But this is a day of bigger, faster, more violent play in a field space that has not been increased since the game was created. And given the size of contracts, and the lure of life-altering financial gain, the emotions that govern the play on the field has increased in scope, as well. Boys have always been boys when it comes to competition, but now it’s men playing like boys without respect to the ultimate consequences.
It’s hard to feel sorry for someone with Newton’s deal. He’s one of the league’s richest. But just the same, it’s sickening to watch the blows to the head that he takes because he’s big, physical, and chooses to run with the football. Funny, in high school and college they flag such hits as “targeting”. In the NFL, the “target” is nothing more than the object of the highlight films. You kinda’ have to buy what Cam’s cookin’ here.
Or…enforce the rules.
Or…play the game like rugby. No helmets!