Cam Newton has been hit more than any other quarterback in football, and yet there hasn’t been a single accepted roughing the passer penalty called against him this season. Considering that 102 of those such penalties have been called across the league this season(according to NFL Penalty Tracker), probability says that referees have missed a few illegal hits against Cam. After the Panthers’ win over the Arizona Cardinals, they finally admitted to one.
After Newton and the Panthers’ head coach and GM all complained to the league office about the sheer volume of unpenalized hits the reigning MVP has taken, the league said that a hit from Calais Campbell, in which the lineman dove at Newton’s legs below the knee, should have been flagged as roughing the passer. The announcement comes after Newton claimed he neither felt safe nor enjoyed the game at this stage due to the frequency of hits he was taking, and the lack of support from referees regarding them.
There are any number of reasons why referees would be less likely to call penalties against teams hitting Newton — coach Ron Rivera surmised it was because of Newton’s size, like how Shaq got fewer calls in the NBA — but one thing is for sure: Watching Panthers games doesn’t inspire confidence that the NFL is truly taking protecting its players seriously. Hopefully this announcement is the start of some changes.