Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has a good point.
Newton was angry after his team’s 30-20 victory against Arizona on Sunday. That was somewhat jarring given that Newton had guided Carolina to its first victory in six weeks.
He was so furious about not getting more calls when he is hit late or low that he was having a hard time enjoying the victory. He was fuming on the sideline for most of the fourth quarter, trying without much success to calm down.
“It’s really taken the fun out of the game for me, honestly,” Newton said in his postgame news conference. “At times, I don’t even feel safe.”
He even said he wanted to talk to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about it because “enough is enough.”
In particular, Newton was mad that he got hit very low on third-and-goal from the Arizona 2 by the Cardinals’ Calais Campbell during the third quarter on an unflagged play. Newton said he “could have torn my ACL” on the hit, and that was the “breaking point” for his anger.
He was right in this case. Quarterbacks are not supposed to be submarined. The play should have been flagged.
By the same token, I thought Arizona’s Carson Palmer should have also gotten a call when Carolina cornerback Daryl Worley sacked him with a very low hit during the second quarter. That hit wasn’t flagged, either.
NFL rules are designed to protect quarterbacks, and that’s in large part because quarterbacks are the league’s biggest stars. They have a “strike zone” you can hit – between knees and shoulders. Not too high. Not too low.
Those are the rules. Newton doesn’t always get the benefit of those rules because he’s such an enormous physical specimen and he runs so often. The double standard was most obvious in the Denver game, which was a travesty in a number of ways in terms of the head-hunting hits he took.
I’m glad Newton decided to speak up, saying he doesn’t get the calls that other quarterbacks do. I criticized him in his last postgame news conference – after a loss at New Orleans two weeks ago – for not answering questions and for acting pouty. This time he spoke his mind, which is what he should do more often. Not only that, I believe he’s right.
Said Newton: “The story of my life ever since I came in is, ‘Oh well, we missed that one. I’m sorry. I’ll try to get it.’ That’s bullcrap. As players in this league, if we do something stupid, 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.”
It wasn’t the most eloquent way to put it, but that’s OK. Even if Newton gets fined for his comments, he has brought awareness to the issue in a very public way.
So the quarterback really had three good things happen Sunday: He won a game. He didn’t tear his ACL. And he probably just bought himself a couple more late-hit calls at some point this season.