By Joe Giordano || Sports Editor
At six-foot-five, 245 pounds, Cam Newton isn’t exactly what we’d call a small quarterback. His hard-nosed nature of play and his willingness to take hard hits often makes him the target of linebackers and lineman looking to make a name for themselves. In addition, his on-field passion frequently rubs opposing players the wrong way and leads many to despise every touchdown celebration the Carolina quarterback makes. However, in recent weeks, and even the past few years, Newton has been on the other end of numerous illegal, and not to mention dangerous, hits from opposing defenses. While it is easy to say that he can defend himself at his massive size, the league needs to take more of a firm stance on protecting their athletes in general.
The most recent of these hits, and what brought this subject to light again, was an illegal, below-the-knees hit on Cam Newton by Cardinals defensive end, Calais Campbell. The play did not so much as raise a penalty flag from the officiating crew, much to Newton’s dismay. After the game on Sunday, Newton expressed his displeasure stating, “I don’t think there’s a person that can go through what I go through and still keep their heads… Hits to the head, that’s one thing. But when you’re not protected in the pocket, that’s another thing.” Many of the officiating crews that are responsible for these no-calls often use the excuse that the calls were simply missed, which is totally unacceptable. Unlike in many sports, like baseball for instance, where if you miss a strike call it causes no physical harm, missed penalties in the NFL can lead to serious consequences. Concussions and other long-term injuries can occur within the blink of an eye due to these hits, and if these calls are repeatedly “missed” by officials, the safety of all the NFL athletes is in grave danger.
Stricter protocol should go into potentially punishing referees who have missed these blatant and incredibly ugly hits on players like Cam Newton. Players are held to an extremely high standard both on and off the field and I believe the people appointed to essentially insure their safety should be held to the same standards. If no one is willing to protect the players, the players will not feel as comfortable performing and it will not only impact the league, but also the entertainment value of the sport and fan-bases as well.
Newton later had a meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell, and shortly after Campbell was fined for the hit. Newton stated in a press conference later in the week that, “It was a great discussion; great talk. I got my point across. He got his point across.” This is a step in the right direction for the league and they need to continue to make steps towards progress in this regard.
The league should be out to protect players of all sizes, and that includes the mammoth Newton. The excuses that worked in the past cannot exist anymore and it is truly the only way to play a safe game. For both sides, one can hope that people work together to make safety their main goal.
Junior Joe Giordano is the Sports Editor. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.