Cam Newton is the latest NFL star to come out and say that he is not having as much fun in the league as he used to, even after his team’s 30-20 victory over Arizona on Sunday. To a point, I understand where he is coming from. Late hits below the knees, like the one he took on Sunday from Cardinals’ defensive end Calais Campbell, are in no way “fun” and can easily lead to serious injuries. In a league where flags are thrown when a player shoots an imaginary bow and arrow or shakes his ass after a big play, or basically every other snap in any game involving the Raiders, shouldn’t ones also be thrown for low hits to a quarterback standing in the pocket after he has thrown the ball?
In his postgame press conference in an outfit that only Cam would attempt to pull off, he spoke about his feelings about the hit:
It’s really taking the fun out of the game for me. Honestly, it really is. At times I don’t even feel safe. And enough is enough. I plan on talking to commissioner (Roger) Goodell about this. It’s not fun.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
To this point, I understand were Cam is coming from. Hits like he received on Sunday are potentially dangerous, and there is a rough line between what is “legal” and “illegal”. For whatever my opinion’s worth, I agree with him in this instance. Newton, whose knack for running the ball, has come to realize that he is going to be hit harder and more often than other quarterbacks around the league when he is an established runner. But when he is standing in the pocket, he deserves the same overprotection that every other QB in the league gets from the officials.
It will be curious to see the outcome of Cam’s meeting with the commissioner, who has been criticized countless times over the years for his decision making ability, if it ever happens. Later in his press conference, Newton was critical of the league’s handling of admitting to blown calls in the days after games. In week 1 against Denver, he was hit in the head time after time, and the hits have not stopped coming.
Referees are humans and will never please everybody with the calls they do and do not make during games. But excuses like “I didn’t see it” are simply “bull crap”. Their sole purpose is to make sure that the game is played within the rules of the league, and there should be some kind of review system with consequences for calls that are blatantly missed. The league has a committee dedicated to player health and safety regarding player on player plays and hits, but there is no formal way of holding officials accountable for their calls, made or missed, during games.
As a player in this league, if we do something stupid we get fined. If we do something derogatory to someone else we get fined. And 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 horse crap.
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