When we last saw Cam Newton, he was once again at the center of an NFL concussion protocol controversy. After taking a blow to his head during his team’s playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints, Newton was slow to get up and eventually went to the ground as he tried to return to the sidelines. From any objective point of view, it looked like he had suffered a brain injury.
Newton was evaluated for a concussion and cleared, and re-entered the game on the next series. Afterwards, the Panthers offered multiple explanations for why Newton was cleared so quickly. The first being that he was actually slow to get up because he had suffered an eye injury on the hit, and the second being that he only went to the ground to buy his team time to warm up the backup quarterback.
The NFL investigated the Panthers’ handling of the situation, and the findings of that investigation were released today. The report contains a third, previously unreported excuse for Newton’s behavior after the hit, which is that he also suffered a knee injury in the game. Nevertheless, the league has concluded that Panthers did everything exactly right, and that anyone who thought otherwise is just being irresponsible:
Accusations of irresponsibility are pretty rich coming from a league that spent decades actively trying to cover up the effects of brain injuries and has since done nothing but trip over its own dick while attempting to legislate them out of the game.
Aside from that, this sort of hair-splitting over what does and does not constitute “gross motor instability” and who should feel bad for having had the wrong reaction to the situation only confuses the point, which is that football is an inherently violent game that hurts its participants. Whether or not Cam Newton exhibited the necessary symptoms of a brain injury to be removed from the game for a fuller examination doesn’t change the fact that he got hit in the head really hard, as he has been many times before, and that he’d be better off if he hadn’t.