Is Cam Newton right? Is he not getting his fair share of calls on late and illegal hits in NFL games?
Newton used his postgame news conference after Sunday’s game against Arizona to say he planned to speak to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell because he tired of not getting calls after what he feels are a bevy of missed flags. Newton said he could’ve torn a knee ligament after Cardinals defensive lineman Calais Campbell hit Newton at the knees in the third quarter of the Panthers 30-20 win Sunday – with no flag.
NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders doesn’t agree that the Panthers quarterback is being unfairly victimized. Sanders spoke on the NFL Network Sunday night, after a graphic was shown revealing that since 2011, Newton leads the NFL with roughing the passer flags in his favor.
“Please understand,” Sanders said. “Cam is a passer. He is a runner. He’s one of the most dynamic, complete quarterbacks in our game. He opens himself up to more exposure, much more than a guy like...Tom Brady because he’s going to run the ball and get outside, so he’s not going to get the courteous calls (non-running quarterbacks) may get. He’s out of the pocket and running. You’re not a QB (now), you’re a runner. Slide with your feet first and you may have a case.”
Sanders said that during the 15-1 season of 2015, Newton was much different in his public comments.
“Cam we didn’t hear any of this when you were winning,” Sanders said, “but you’re 2-5 and we keep hearing these complaints and people get sick of it. It’s almost like now we hear you complain because you’re not winning. Last (year) it was a dance fest. It was Soul Train at the end of every (touchdown). But Cam, it’s hard to make a case when we saw the other Cam when you were winning. Now, we are seeing the Cam that’s not winning. I’m not going to call him a loser because he’s a winner. He’s been winning all his life.”
As with most things Cam, a small national debate quickly got started on the Sunday night and Monday morning sports talk shows – and football experts seemed to take sides.
ESPN posted a graphic on “SportsCenter,” showing that, in the past two seasons, Newton has been hit 212 times and gotten zero roughing the passer calls. In the same period, Drew Brees had been hit 63 times and gotten 10 roughing the passer calls. Brady? Hit 85 times and got five roughing calls.
ESPN’s Ryan Clark: “He’s in the pocket. Campbell doesn’t do (hit him low) intentionally. The fact is, it was done. Every quarterback looks for that call. Cam Newton should get that call as well. Take it back to ... the Denver game. He should get those calls. I think Cam focuses on some of the hits he takes while being a runner, but he’s correct to say he’s officiated differently. You look at Michael Vick, who was a guy I felt wasn’t officiated the same way as other quarterbacks; Ben Roethlisberger. Those guys played a brand of football that made them hard to officiate at quarterback. You mix both of those together to get Cam Newton. He has the running style of Michael Vick and the body type of a healthier, leaner Ben Roethlisberger.”
NBC Sports Rodney Harrison (who is not known to be much of a Panthers fan): “He doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt because he’s so big, but he’s absolutely spot-on with this” complaint.
NBC Sports Tony Dungy: “That play we saw, there’s no excuse for missing that. That’s below the knee. It’s an automatic penalty. It should’ve been called. I feel badly for him because Cam should not be saying this. You go on public record like this, that puts thoughts in defenders’ minds (that) you’re a little gun shy. His head coach, his owner, everybody in his organization should say this. He shouldn’t have to say this.”
Back on NFL Network, former Chargers star LaDanian Tomlinson said Newton’s size can play a factor in the lack of calls.
“I think there are times when he doesn’t get the call that he should,” Tomlinson said, “and for whatever reason, the refs don’t throw the flag. That’s been thrown around, that he’s big and can take those shots, but sometimes it’s unintentional. They fall into Cam’s legs or hit hit high or push him back well after the play. But we just saw the graphic (showing Newton leads the league in roughing the passer calls since 2011). He has the most calls in his favor.”