After getting hit below the knees – without a penalty flag to show for it – Cam Newton went off on Sunday, blasting NFL officials for refusing to treat him like a normal quarterback. Newton said that he does not feel safe on the field, that the no-calls are making the game less fun for him, and that enough is enough.
Reaction around the league was mixed.
“First and foremost, he’s a crybaby,” former NFL receiver and current Atlanta radio host Brian Finneran said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Secondly, I get his point because he gets beat up so much. That call that was missed during the game on Sunday was ridiculous. He got hit low in the knee and they should have thrown a flag. There’s no excuse for that, especially when you’ve got a quarterback in the pocket. I don’t care who it is. I don’t care if it’s Drew Brees or Matt Ryan or Cam Newton. When a guy gets hit low like that, you just got to throw a flag. That’s a rule. “
However, Newton, as Finnernan pointed out, often takes a lot of punishment outside of the pocket and on running plays.
“Cam brings a lot of it on himself unfortunately, the way he runs with the football, the way the offense is designed, and his antics,” he said. “He got concussed here in Atlanta because he wanted to mosey his ass into the end zone on a two-point conversion and not go full speed. I don’t feel bad for him at all on that play when Deion Jones hit him upside the head. (Newton) should have lowered his shoulder and got in the end zone and ran through the goal line. But he wanted to kind of be a hot shot and dab and take some pictures on the sidelines like he’s used to doing against the Falcons, and it didn’t work that time.
“I hate to see guys get hurt (in the NFL),” Finneran continued. “I really do because I was hurt plenty when I played. But if you don’t take this game seriously and finish through the end zone and finish through the first-down marker and finish out of bounds, you’re going to get hurt – and that’s exactly what happened. With that said, Cam has been beat up. From the game in Denver in Week 1, there should have been more penalty flags, and then that shot in his knees should have been a flag. So I can understand where he’s coming from. I don’t know that he should have taken it to the air like that, but listen, I’m an Atlanta Falcon for life, so I’ve got no patience or mercy for Cam Newton.”
Newton, the league’s reigning MVP, said he intends to speak with Roger Goodell about the un-flagged punishment he is taking.
“I think they have to take a look at it and make sure that when a quarterback – regardless of who it is – gets hit in the knee in the pocket, a flag needs to come out because that can’t happen,” Finneran said. “You’ve seen Tom Brady and Carson Palmer both go down and miss entire seasons. I think Big Ben Roethlisberger from time to time gets hit low. You’e got to respect the fact that those guys need to be protected. As soon as they leave the pocket, though, all bets are off. When they can become a running back, I don’t care who hits them or how hard they hit them. Once you start running, you better learn how to get down, you better learn to how to get out of bounds or throw the ball away. Cam needs to learn a few of those things.”