Cam Newton’s father is exactly right. The NFL treats hits against the Panthers star differently than other top flight quarterbacks in the league.
When Falcons safety Damontae Kazee drilled Cam Newton in the head last Sunday it looked like the Panthers quarterback might have suffered a serious injury. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. If the NFL doesn’t start protecting Newton soon, he’s going to really get hurt.
It’s a sad commentary when a player’s father has to come out and defend the wellbeing of his son. Cecil Newton has been forced to do just that. He recently told The Athletic that if the same hit had been levied against seven other quarterbacks in the NFL, the “whole NFL community would be outraged.” That’s harsh criticism for the league, but it’s dead on.
Newton isn’t receiving the same protection his peers enjoy because he plays the position differently than other stars. Not only is Newton a terrific running quarterback, he also has the size to deliver blows to opposing defenders. He doesn’t play the position like a victim. As such, the NFL doesn’t treat him like one.
That’s not fair. Just because he happens to be the size of a lot of NFL safeties doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be protected like other Pro Bowl signal callers. The failure to sternly discipline Kazee for his vicious hit sends an atrocious message to the rest of th league. Hitting Newton doesn’t carry the same danger that hitting someone like Aaron Rodgers does.
Even Newton’s teammates can see the double standard in action. Veteran wide receiver Torrey Smith got fined the exact same amount that Kazee did after rushing in to stick up for his teammate. He claims that Kazee’s hit would have drawn a fine of “a trillion dollars” had it been on any other quarterback.
Of course that’s hyperbole, but the sentiment is absolutely correct. Just imagine if Tom Brady would have been hit by a safety in the head well after sliding onto the turf. Does anyone really believe the offending player would not have been forced to miss at least one game? Kazee got off light because he hit a quarterback that people believe is capable of defending himself out on the field.
The Panthers need to take concrete steps to make sure this injustice doesn’t continue any longer. They’ll need to walk a fine line while expressing their outrage, but it needs to happen nonetheless. Ron Rivera, Marty Hurney and even David Tepper need to bring this issue up with the NFL. It’s what must be done to protect the Panthers’ most valuable player.