Tom Sorensen

Missed calls against Cam Newton? There’s STILL not a conspiracy against Panthers

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) has taken some shots from opponents that have been questionable. But they don’t add up to a conspiracy.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) has taken some shots from opponents that have been questionable. But they don’t add up to a conspiracy. AP

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton took a shot Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams in which a penalty was not called. I’m talking specifically about the hit from linebacker Mark Barron. I thought it was a penalty. Yet the Barron call was close. It was not nearly as blatant as the call officials missed the previous week against the Arizona Cardinals.

You know the story. Newton is big and Newton runs. As a result, Newton does not elicit the roughing penalties that many other quarterbacks do. But other than his size and his tendency to run, there’s no inherent bias against Newton or the team for which he plays. Officials are having a rough season, as the teams that kick field goals against the Seattle Seahawks will attest.

Years ago Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, told me that he greatly respects Panthers owner Jerry Richardson. He ought to. Richardson campaigned hard for Goodell to get the commissioner’s job. I’m not sure that, if Richardson could do it over, he would. But that has nothing to do with calls and non-calls on the field.

The league does not hold secret meetings in secret bunkers to plot secret strategy to secretly undermine the Panthers. The league didn’t tell the Panthers, for example, that Greg Hardy no longer could play for them. The Panthers told Hardy that he no longer could play for them. It was solely their idea.

There is a theory in Pantherland that the NFL is out to get the team and, by extension, the fans that support them. It’s strange to me that adults would think this. But, OK, it’s also amusing.

▪  As I mentioned before, if you want consistently bad officiating, watch a team attempt to kick a field goal against Seattle. On field goal attempts the Seahawks apparently can do what they want when they want to whom they want.

Richard Sherman took a blatant shot at Buffalo Bills kicker Dan Carpenter Monday night when he tried to block a field goal at the end of the first half. He nailed Carpenter. Sherman was called for being offsides but not for the personal foul.

The Seahawks all but do jumping jacks on each other’s backs when opponents attempt to kick. Ask the Arizona Cardinals. If, as the other team lined up, a Seattle player reached beneath the ring apron (gratuitous pro wrestling reference), pulled out a folding metal chair, brought it onto the field and climbed on it, would he be penalized?

Does this mean officials plot to undermine Seattle’s opponents? Nah. It just means they have missed so many calls against the Seahawks on field goal attempts it’s as if they collect them.

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Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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