During Monday night’s clash between the Carolina Panthers and Washington, Cam Newton was flagged for taunting. This happened on a play in which he slid late and was grazed on the helmet by the helmet of defender Trent Murphy.
Here’s a replay of the play in question.
Cam Newton penalized for taunting… pic.twitter.com/XS6VcUKcUY
— Steve Noah (@Steve_OS) December 20, 2016
Considering Newton’s beef with officials — that he doesn’t get protected like other quarterbacks — this was a notable play in the game, especially since he got flagged for taunting. Many felt that there should have been two flags on the play — one on Newton, who did break the rules by throwing the ball at Murphy, and one on Murphy for hitting him in the head as he was sliding.
The lead ref in the game, Walt Coleman, explained his point of view about the entire situation, as shared by Tom Pelissero of USA Today Sports.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 20, 2016
Essentially, Coleman and his crew saw that, because Newton slid late, and because there was no “forcible contact with the head,” Murphy did not violate any rules against Newton on the play.
This will certainly not assuage Newton or those who share his feelings about being treated differently because he’s a running quarterback. Clearly, there have been many cases this year alone in which Newton was hit in the head and defenders were not flagged for helmet-to-helmet contact (more on that here).
However, watching that play and then reading what Coleman has to say about it, it’s easy to understand why a flag wasn’t thrown in this particular instance.