Skip to main content

NFL Referees Fail Cam Newton, Fans

If the NFL is serious about the safety of players and finding ways to limit concussions, the referees in last night's Denver Broncos/Carolina Panthers game had a funny way of showing it.

Instead of talking about what a great rematch of the Super Bowl these two teams put on, much of the focus was placed on the amount of hits Cam Newton took to the helmet last night.

And rightfully so.

There were at least three occasions during the course of the game in which Newton was on the receiving end of helmet-to-helmet hits. 

These hits were not of the "blink and you miss it" variety of hits. They were in the course of game action, delivered to Newton after a throw or in the midst of being tackled.

The Broncos were flagged for this infraction once.


For a league that is looking to protect its players, especially quarterbacks, these calls were not simply "mistakes" or "errors" by the referees. And to right it off as such is simply another loosening thread on what might be the start of an unraveling NFL.

Three helmet-to-helmet hits. Minimum. On the reigning MVP of the league, nonetheless.

By the third hit, I felt sick to my stomach for Newton. The look on my face was probably similar to the one Rod Tidwell's kid displayed when Tidwell kept taking hard hits in the Arizona/Dallas game in Jerry Maguire. 

Look, I'm not even a Cam Newton fan. I have nothing against him, but I'm not going to sit here pretending to be a Newton apologist. But what I saw happen last night made me feel something was off about the officiating of the game. Was it to the extent of how Thomas Davis, Sr. saw it? Could be.

I understand calls are going to be missed throughout the extent of the game. It's impossible for the referees to see every infraction that occurs. But these weren't run-of-the-mill instances. 

When other quarterbacks in the league are protecting like a precious resource, it makes one wonder where the flags were. I've seen--and I'm sure other fans have as well--fifteen-yard penalties called when a defender lightly grazes a quarterback helmet after trying to bat down a ball and following through too far. If the referees can see that, they can certainly see a helmet-to-helmet hit.

Along the lines of player's safety, the NFL might want to look into the competition factor of intentional grounding and a personal foul, late-hit penalty being offsetting fouls. Take the difference of yardage, do something, but a hit to the head should not essentially carry the same ramification as an intentional grounding call.

If this game and lack of calls is setting the stage for the season, with all the discussions of concussions, then the NFL is going to be in some trouble. It might not happen all at once, but fans are going to start to turn off the game.  

Four years ago, I wrote of the NFL employing too many safety standards on the field. That was all wiped away with one game. And I still believe that players know what they are getting into when they play football, but all the research, all the studies and all the protocol in the world won't help if players aren't following the rules and the refs aren't enforcing them. For all players.

The game moves fast. The players are bigger and stronger than ever before. What is needed from the league and the referees is consistency across the board. If that doesn't happen, then players will stop taking those risks, hopefully deciding a life well-lived is better than a short life lived with money.

I, for one, enjoy the NFL. I have enjoyed watching football since as far back as I can remember. But if nights like last night continue, nights in which I find myself talking about hits to the head than the game itself, there might be one less fan turning on the television.

And I may not be the first, but I certainly won't be the last.


Popular posts from this blog

The Bromance of Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Matthew Lillard

In the late 1990's and early 2000's, there was no greater bromance than that between Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Matthew Lillard. The two of them appeared in no less than five movies together in a five year time span. These two were meant to be. Two young stars destined to take the world by storm as a team. Hanging out, meeting women, and enjoying the good life. And then, just like that, stardom was ripped away from them. Though they continued to work, they would never appear together again in a film.
What was it that pulled them apart? Did they just choose to go different directions? Was it Sarah Michelle Gellar that drove a wedge between these two? While Lillard eventually went on to star in an Oscar nominated film (The Descendants), Prinze, Jr. went on to write for the WWE and occasionally show up as a guest star on television shows. While both have tried, neither has recaptured that joy that once displayed on screen. Tonight, I want to dutifully remind the world of t…

From Negan with Love

YouTube screenshot
*The following contains Spoilers from the season 7 premiere of "The Walking Dead"
"Pissing our pants yet? Boy, do I have a feeling we're getting close."- Negan, The Walking Dead

And people thought Ramsay Bolton was sadistic.

The much anticipated season seven premiere of The Walking Dead hit the airwaves last Sunday. Boy, was it a doozy.
I am not going to spend much time on what side of the liked/didn't like it/I'm never watching again spectrum I fall in. I will say that I was enraptured, on the edge of my seat for nearly the entire one hour, six minutes (including commercials) of the episode. This was an episode that filled me with a sense of existential dread for the characters inhabiting The Walking Dead world. It is a feeling that is still with me nearly two days later.
As a disclaimer, I am only through the first ten volumes of the graphic novels. I have yet to reach the Negan arc. I am also on the side of the court that didn't m…

American Sports Franchises Thirsty for a Title

image courtesy of
A billy goat. A dash of bad luck. A sprinkle of a die hard fan. Leon Durham. Add those together and you have the beginnings of the recipe for the curse that has haunted the Chicago Cubs for over 70 years.
In winning the 2016 World Series, the Cubs collected their first World Series title since 1908. Their seven-game victory effectively ended the longest title drought among the four major professional sports leagues in the United States.

Now that the talk of a goat and Bartman can be put to rest, it is now the Cleveland Indians sitting on the longest drought in the Major League baseball. The Indians will be discussed here, as will the other longest droughts in the three other major American sports leagues.
MLB-Cleveland Indians
The Indians moved through the American League this postseason with ease. First, they swept the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS. Then, they took care of the Toronto Blue Jays in five games.
Yes, the Indians lost in the World Series after l…