Cam Newton has been taking a lot of hits lately. And I mean a whole lot of questionable hits that seem to cross the line of what’s considered fair play. Following a Carolina Panthers win against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, Newton took to the podium and expressed his concerns.
“The story of my life ever since I came in is just, ‘Oh well, we messed that one up. Sorry,'” said Newton. That’s bull crap. As players in this league, if we do something stupid, we get fined. If we 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.’
“Coming from a person who has been fined before, coming from a person that everybody is expecting a lot from — and I’m still growing — yet 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 it on lesser hits … it’s taking the fun out for me,” Cam continued. “I’m just being honest with you.”
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Coming from a man who has shied away from coming off as controversial on such issues as racism and historic views of black quarterbacks, that’s a lot. But what do the numbers say? Well, a whole lot more, actually. Yes, Cam is mobile. He’s a big guy. However neither of those attributes make him indestructible. He is made of flesh and bone, not nuts and bolts.
And, for all those who think Cam is just spinning his wheels on this, the numbers say otherwise. Newton hasn’t drawn an accepted roughing-the-passer penalty since the 2014 season, according to ESPN Stats & Information data. But the NFL says officials have missed three such calls that would have benefited him.
Traditionally, NFL referees have struggled with properly officiating running quarterbacks. Remember how many hits Mike Vick use to take? However, to the “running quarterback” naysayers, the hits that are drawing Cam’s ire, like the shot to the knees he took against Arizona, are taking place inside the pocket.
According to the NFL, since 2013, 11 quarterbacks have more missed roughing the passer penalties calls than Newton: Jay Cutler, Alex Smith, Geno Smith, Josh McCown, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, Case Keenum, and Ryan Tannehill.
(Photo Credit: USA Today)
But size-ism a real thing.
Every time you turn around there’s someone saying how he’s so big and athletic at 6’5″ and over 240 pounds. Yes, there are other quarterbacks that get hit often, but not like Cam. Head shots and helmets to the chest seem to be a regular occurrence. People like to think he’s superhuman, but he’s not.
Last time I checked, there are plenty of big, mean, fast and strong defensive players who match Newton’s size, if not his strength and speed. That is to say, there should be no concessions made for opposing players, whether conscious or subconscious, by the ref.
The concessions should be made for franchise quarterbacks, and the rules are supposed to do that. But Newton seems to take more hits to the head than any NFL MVP quarterback that I can remember.
Additionally, when a defensive player is moving toward a point in space, he automatically gains mass as he accelerates. That’s not me, y’all. That’s your boy Albert Einstein. So, if Newton is standing still, and an accelerated player is striking him, Cam’s size becomes irrelevant.
Whether you like him or not, Cam’s life matters.
Those cumulative hits over an extended period of time could greatly dull his quality of life down the road. Football shouldn’t be a lifelong regret. And with the NFL making a conscious effort to protect quarterbacks in particular, and defenseless players in general, this pattern of leaving Cam exposed is not a good look at all.