Another blatant hit against Carolina Panthers Cam Newton will go essentially unpunished – this time to a repeat offender.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is one of the most dynamic players playing the game of football today. He has revolutionized the quarterback position and continues to routinely lead the team in rushing yards – a feat he accomplished in each of the first two games this season.
Throughout his career Newton has been subject to taking unnecessary hits due to his ability for making plays with his legs outside of the pocket. Recently, he has taken noticeable measures to limit the punishment his body endures, electing to slide feet first and give himself up instead of lowering a shoulder and attempting to fight for a few more yards.
Even inside the pocket, Newton hasn’t received near the amount of protection other quarterbacks get from NFL referees. Hits on Newton largely go unnoticed due to his size and even helmet to helmet instances have gone without flags, despite NFL reviews warranting fines for the players in question.
Newton spoke to commissioner Roger Goodell a few seasons ago after stating that he, didn’t “feel safe” playing the game. It was a legitimate concern but one the NFL has failed to hear despite advertising the safety of their players as a key focal point for the league.
On Sunday, Falcons safety Damontae Kazee became the latest player to put an illegal hit on Newton. As the Panthers quarterback scrambled on fourth-down and attempted to slide after securing more than enough yardage for the conversion, Kazee lowered his head and launched his helmet directly into the facemask of a defenseless Newton.
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A brief scuffle ensued as Carolina wide receiver Torrey Smith took immediate exception to the hit, shoving Kazee before other players became involved. He too drew a flag and the penalties were technically off-setting although an NFL review warranted the disqualification of Kazee.
It was a small step in the appropriate direction but now the NFL has an opportunity to send a message that ‘head-hunting’ will not be tolerated and they aren’t going to take it. According to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, only a fine will be administered to Kazee even though nearly everyone not associated with the Falcons wouldn’t have flinched at the ruling of a suspension.
Kazee has a history of using his helmet for a weapon, ending the year for Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee during the preseason with a hit to the knee that drew a flag but no ejection – or fine. The Falcons second-year safety offered condolences to Lee via Twitter after ruining his season but no such sentiment has been aimed at Newton.
Quarterbacks slide repeatedly when forced to scramble and often don’t even have to be touched before being considered down. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan ran the series prior and was blatantly avoided by the Panthers defenders once he elected to slide.
Just another egregious disregard for Newton by Goodell and the NFL office – an unfortunate theme that has occurred far too often during his career.