Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton ripped the NFL’s game officials after Sunday’s victory against Arizona, saying he’s fed up with the non-calls on late or illegal hits he has endured throughout his career.
“It’s really taking the fun out of the game for me,” he said. “At times I don’t even feel safe. And enough is enough. I plan on talking to Commissioner (Roger) Goodell about this. And I don’t know what I have to do.”
An unflagged, third-quarter hit by Cardinals defensive tackle Calais Campbell below Newton’s knees set off the reigning league MVP. A team source said Newton had a hard time settling down on the sideline – and he vented his frustrations publicly at his postgame news conference.
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“I don’t think there’s a person that can go through what I go through and still keep their heads,” he said. “Hits to the head, that’s one thing. But when you’re not protected in the pocket, that’s another thing.
“The story of my life ever since I came in is, ‘Oh, oh, well, we missed that one. I’m sorry. I’ll try to get it.’ That’s bullcrap. As a player in this league, if we do something stupid we get fined. If you do something derogatory to somebody else, we get fined. I just can’t keep accepting, ‘Oh, we missed that one.’ Or ‘I apologize for doing that.’ Or ‘I didn’t see it.’ That’s horsecrap.”
Newton said he has taken hits that have drawn flags for other quarterbacks, and that he’s tired of it. No one on Walt Coleman’s crew Sunday threw a flag on Campbell’s hit.
Newton has drawn two unnecessary roughness penalties this season, both of which were negated by offsetting fouls. Cardinals defensive tackle Rodney Gunter was penalized for a late hit against him three plays before Campbell’s shot to his leg.
A holding penalty on Panthers left tackle Mike Remmers nullified the flag on Gunter.
Newton, who is 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, has been subjected to hits throughout his NFL career, taking the most of any quarterback since he entered the league in 2011.
Some of them are because he is a quarterback who also runs the football. Some, he says, are plays that would be flagged if he were anyone else.
Newton, the NFL’s MVP in 2015, said he doesn’t feel protected by the league’s officials.
“When you constantly see the hits, when you constantly see flags being picked up, when you’re constantly seeing flags not being thrown, and to see other quarterbacks getting lesser physical hits, then it’s taking the fun for me out,” he said.
“When I see other guys get calls, they don’t have to be no MVP. They don’t have to be this, that and the third of being this type of tier of a player. I look at how they get hit and for every hit that they get that’s called, I can match a hit in my career that I didn’t get called.
“I know people will probably take what I’m saying – some people will take it out of context – but you just have to look back and look at it from my vantage point. I play this game one way. I’m no different than anybody else. I’m trying to win football games.”
Asked what the breaking point was for him, Newton pointed to the Campbell play.
Campbell dived at his legs after Newton released a pass, hitting him below his right knee and causing his leg to bend backward awkwardly.
“He could have torn my ACL,” he said. “That’s the breaking point.”