Cam Newton is frustrated yet again – not because of a high-profile loss or a postgame press conference, but because he feels NFL referees are not protecting him. Newton took several un-flagged shots in Carolina’s 30-20 win over Arizona on Sunday, later saying that he no longer feels safe and that “enough is enough.”
What do we make of this?
“Well, he’s right,” Bleacher Report NFL writer Jason Cole said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “The NFL is now going through this process this morning where they’re disseminating stats that show we’ve missed more calls with other guys and Cam has gotten the most calls, and that’s all fine. The optics are what they are. That’s an automatic call that they missed yesterday. It’s automatic. If you hit a guy below the knee, the flag’s got to come out. There’s no question about it. If that’s Tom Brady, if that’s Peyton Manning, if that’s one of your top star players, that comes out. This is on top of the season-opener where he took three or four shots to the head, none of which were called. Sometimes he gets out of the pocket and acts like a runner. Yes, sometimes Cam Newton, more than other quarterbacks, runs a lot and take more physical abuse because of the style of offense they play. That doesn’t apply to most of these hits. In most of these hits, he’s in the pocket. He’s where a passer normally is and where the passer is supposed to be protected.”
This isn’t the first time Newton has spoken out against what he perceives as a bias among officials. Cole, however, doesn’t know if anything will change.
“(Referees) shrug their shoulders and say, ‘We’ll get it right next time,’” he said. “Hopefully they actually do because we’ve got quarterbacks going down like flies this year. We all know that quarterbacks are the most important players in the league. It’s what drives everything. You got to protect these guys, one way or the other.”
Especially since ratings for the NFL are down this year. While many people believe this is cause for concern, Cole attributes the lackluster numbers to the “reality-show election” that is dominating the news cycle.
“(People are angry on both sides), and that anger goes over to the NFL, which then does other things to make you angrier,” Cole said. “You’ve got a boring game sometimes, particularly in prime time with all sorts of flags. We’re averaging over seven penalties per team per game. That’s 14 penalties per game. That’s the second-highest level in 20-something years. So we got a slow game, we got bad offensive line play, we’ve got quarterbacks getting hurt – there’s myriad of reasons people are not satisfied with the game they’re watching. And that’s one top of the fact that they’re not satisfied, they’re not happy about general life they’re going through, so everybody is just tuned out to both life in general and the game. That would be my theory. I can’t prove it. I have no other numbers other than ratings are down there and ratings are up for the news networks.”
Cole also weighed in on the potential legal issues surrounding Ezekiel Elliott, who was accused of domestic abuse this summer. Jerry Jones believes that Elliott, who leads the league in rushing, will not be suspended, but that is far from a guarantee.
“I don’t know (what’s going to happen) because I don’t know if there’s a history with him or if this is an isolated incident,” Cole said. “And (does the league) trust the girlfriend in what she’s saying? Does she have proof of what happened that is more impressive than it was for, say, the Columbus Police Department? I’m not saying it wasn’t. The Columbus Police Department obviously can be biased either for or against Ezekiel Elliott because he’s an Ohio State player. But does she possess evidence that makes her credible, that the league views as credible? We’ll see. All I know is they’re taking their good sweet time on this one. The NFL, anytime they get embarrassed by something, they generally come back and fire back with something that makes it look like they’re doing their job. So does Ezekiel Elliott become the example of the next person they use to show (people), ‘No, we really do have our stuff together and we really do investigate things thoroughly and we really do take our time and get to the bottom of things’? That’s what I think Jerry Jones is upset about, and he was upset two weeks ago at the NFL owners’ meeting. He was yelling at Lisa Friehl about the investigation of Elliott. He was yelling. He was not talking over loud music because I was in that bar. There was not a lot of loud music in that bar.”