Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton acknowledges that he took some hard hits in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos. But the reigning NFL MVP insists that he never had a concussion.
“I took a couple hits to the head but I don’t think I showed any signs of being concussed,” Newton said, per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk. “There was no wooziness. I’ve seen hits in the past where guys stumbled, and I’ve seen hits where it affects their play afterward…. That comes with football, it being a contact sport.”
There are really a few things to look at here.
At this point, it’s fair to assume that Newton was not concussed. He passed all of his tests after the game. And while he took some shots to the head, the quarterback never showed any of the signs that he mentioned.
Two, even if we take that for granted, the NFL completely failed Newton.
It failed by not penalizing the hits to his head, thereby encouraging more. Newton was physically dominant at times during the game. The Broncos, who are never afraid to push the envelope, found something that was working. It wasn’t penalized, so Denver had no reason not to do it again.
The NFL failed by not putting him through more stringent testing during the game. Newton may not have been woozy, but there were certainly moments where he was slow to get up. With all of the emphasis on concussions and head injuries, it’s hard to believe that anyone could have missed this. It’s not like anyone could say that he/she was focused on another game.
The NFL made a mistake that it probably got away with. Newton was abused, but seems to have avoided a concussion. But this has to be a learning experience. If the NFL doesn’t learn from this, next time (and there will be a next time), it won’t be so lucky.