Was Tolbert right to criticize Panthers over Newton injuries?

Dean Jones
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Mike Tolbert
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Mike Tolbert /

Was Mike Tolbert right to criticize the Carolina Panthers for their handling of Cam Newton’s injury problems in recent years?

Mike Tolbert was never shy to voice his opinions during his time as a player. His recent scathing attack came at the expense of the Carolina Panthers and their handling of quarterback Cam Newton’s injury problems.

The full-back did not hold back when asked by Joe Person of The Athletic what he thought about Newton’s current situation. The 2015 NFL MVP is still on the market two months after he was released by the Panthers in messy circumstances.

Speaking on the subject, Tolbert had this to say.

"“They’ve been doing him wrong timing-wise for the past two or three years, if you ask me. It goes back to his shoulder surgery. Everyone knew his shoulder was messed up in the middle of the year two years ago. But they wait until offseason gets ready to start to have shoulder surgery. Makes no sense. Timing’s off. As soon as he got hurt (last) preseason against the Patriots, they were saying, “Oh, he’s got a high ankle sprain.” I looked at it on film carefully. It’s not a high ankle sprain, you could tell that 10 minutes after the play. You knew it’s a mid-foot sprain, Lisfranc, something like that. But you wait ‘til December for him to beg you to have surgery. He shouldn’t have been out there Week 1 and 2. He shouldn’t have been out there probably ‘til Week 4 or 5, at minimum.”"

This is something that has been widely speculated across the NFL. But for Tolbert to come out and publicly say it is another matter. The Panthers should have handled Newton’s release better. However, there are many different mitigating circumstances that come with a player injury and accusations such as this.

Was Tolbert right to criticize the Carolina Panthers?

Knowing just how competitive and strong-minded Cam Newton was during his time with the Carolina Panthers. It seems unlikely that franchise would have been to put him on the field against his will.

This is a highly competitive individual that has put the team first throughout his career. Something that came at Newton’s detriment with recent ailments over the last two seasons.

However, the foot injury in 2019 might have come with better handling. One reason for this could have been the fact Ron Rivera was fighting to stay in a job. And having Newton on the field provided a better chance of picking up wins despite the apparent seriousness of his condition at the time.

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That being said, any doctors’ advice would surely have had some significant input from Newton. This was the face of the franchise, after all. So putting all the blame on the Panthers is something of a moot point when one considers the influence that the signal-caller had on the entire organization.

Newton will find a new home once social distancing measures are relaxed. And if he is back at full health then there is every chance he can become a prolific NFL starter once again.

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There is still plenty of bitterness surrounding his departure from Carolina, which doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.