The Carolina Panthers may have saved their season with a 30-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday but quarterback Cam Newton was concerned about other things, namely that the reigning MVP doesn’t feel “protected” by league officials.
It’s a narrative that’s been in play since the season opener when Newton took a number of wicked hits from the dominating Denver defense, and it finally seems to have caught up with Newton, who now claims his treatment is “taking the fun out of the game” for him.
The funny thing is that Newton’s size, speed, and athleticism is a double-edged sword and the mentality of any official doing one of his games is probably to give the superstar a little bit of a longer rope when trying to extend plays as opposed to say a traditional dropback passer, incapable of doing much outside the pocket.
When that benefit of the doubt results in Newton pulling a Houdini act and making a big play downfield, be it with his feet or arm, the trademark smile is on display. When it results in him taking a devastating hit by a 250-pound smart bomb that is an NFL linebacker, it’s a different story.
“Enough is enough,” Newton said after the win Sunday. “I don’t think there’s a person that can go through what I go through and keep their head, you know what I’m saying? Hits to the head, that’s one thing, but when you’re not protected in the pocket, that’s another thing. It became the story of my life ever since I came in (to the league). It’s always, ‘Oh, we missed that, I’m sorry.’ That’s bull c@#$.”
The problem with those peddling conspiracies — be they big or small like this — is that they don’t really retreat to the beginning and try to explain the nexus of the plan.
In other words, let’s stipulate that the NFL has it in for its MVP and doesn’t care about his health, at least compared to others playing the position with lesser movement skills.
Does the league want to eliminate the new breed of QB? Do those on 345 Park Avenue dislike Newton’s personality so much that it looks the other way?
To those who started this, it’s always been about race and dividing people, of course with the assumption that “Golden Boy” Tom Brady is handled with kid gloves while Newton is allowed to be battered because of the color of his skin.
The fact that Brady was put on the shelf for four games because of deflated footballs is usually forgotten by those trying to sell that specious argument.
In the past, Newton has stayed away from this nonsense but like an earworm, it’s now taken hold and the signal caller really is starting to think that Walt Coleman, Ed Hochuli, Jerome Boger and Co. have it in for him.
Newton claimed his “breaking point” came in the third quarter Sunday when Arizona defensive lineman Calais Campbell crashed into his knees with nary a flag.
“I could have torn my ACL,” Newton said. “…”I just can’t keep accepting, ‘Oh, we missed that one,’ or ‘I apologize for doing that’ or ‘I didn’t see it.'” Newton said. “That’s horse c@#$.”
And that acceptance should continue because missing a call and equating that to a league-wide directive to leave Newton hanging out to dry borders on the absurd.
“Coming from a person who’s been fined before, coming from a person who everybody’s expecting a lot from, I’m still going. But yet, when you constantly see the hits, when you constantly see flags being picked up and flags not being thrown, and to see other quarterbacks getting it for lesser physical hits, it’s taking the fun for me out,” Newton said. “I’m just being honest about that.”
Problem is, according to ProFootballTalk.com, the league believes it has erred on three roughing calls that should have been flagged with Newton involved since the 2013 season. Over that same span, 11 other quarterbacks have been victimized more: Jay Cutler, Alex Smith, Geno Smith, Josh McCown, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, Case Keenum and Ryan Tannehill.
To some, that’s meaningless because the league lacks credibility, but remember the film exists and once the tallying starts, an argument Newton once dismissed himself crumbles.
In a frustrating season in which the superstar has taken a beating behind a poor offensive line, there is little doubt Newton believes he’s being singled out but it stems from repetition — in that if you’re told something enough times, you start to believe it.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America