The NFL is currently investigating whether the Carolina Panthers followed the league’s recently updated concussion protocol after Cam Newton fell to the ground while walking to the sideline following a big hit.
The hit, which you can see here, was no joke. Newton had evaded pressure, turned around and started running only to be drilled into the turf. So, when Newton crumpled to the ground before reaching the sideline, immediately after said hit, it was safe to wonder whether he suffered a concussion.
Now, Carolina ended up giving the quarterback a cursory, 90-second look-see in the medical tent. The Panthers also tweeted out that Newton had been evaluated for a concussion but was cleared.
Cam Newton has been evaluated for a concussion and cleared.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) January 8, 2018
The big issue there is that, under the NFL’s updated concussion protocol, Newton falling to the ground on the field of play triggered an automatic trip to the locker room for a more thorough examination.
Obviously, that did not happen. Even worse, after the game head coach Ron Rivera gave us a song and dance about how Newton was actually following instructions. Rivera said the team told Newton to fall to the ground so that Derek Anderson had more time to warm up.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, now the Panthers are claiming that a knee injury was also a reason Newton fell to the ground, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“A league source told ESPN that the bothersome knee injury was a contributing factor when Newton staggered to the ground and struggled to stay balanced once he took a knee after a hard hit to the head from Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata.”
Schefter further reports that an MRI showed no damage and that Newton would have played if the Panthers had advanced into the Divisional Round.
So, Newton apparently fell to the ground because he was told to, and because he was struggling to stay balanced due to a knee injury. But by no means did he suffer a concussion (wink, wink), which team doctors were able to determine in less than two minutes, bypassing the league’s locker-room mandate in the process.
Honestly, the Panthers cannot think we’re this gullible, can they?
It was a playoff game, and their best player was walloped. They didn’t want to have him heading into the locker room during the final minutes of the fourth quarter, choosing instead to eschew league policy while simultaneously failing to value the long-term health of their franchise quarterback.
This entire thing stinks to high heaven.