Football fans have been asking why Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton did not receive more medical treatment after receiving several blows to the head — some helmet-to-helmet — during last night’s game against the Denver Broncos.
The NFL said that medical staff did monitor the hits, but concluded that there was not enough evidence of a possible concussion to warrant further evaluation.
In Thursday night’s NFL season opener, the Broncos narrowly defeated the Panthers, 21-20 — a repeat meeting of Super Bowl 50 earlier this year.
More than the Broncos coming back from a 10-point deficit to win the game, or Newton having broken two NFL records Thursday night, people focused on the number of times the 27-year-old quarterback had been hit in the head by Denver’s defense.
Only one was flagged as a penalty.
The hits didn't do unnoticed.
The NFL said in a statement Friday morning that the Panthers’ medical staff, as well as an independent neurotrauma specialist, reviewed videos of Newton’s hits during a pause in the game and decided not to take additional steps.
There was communication between medical personnel on the Carolina sideline, including the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant, and the two independent certified athletic trainer spotters in the booth. During stoppage in play while on-field officials were in the process of administrating [sic] penalties, the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant and team physician requested video from the spotters and reviewed the play. They concluded there were no indications of a concussion that would require further evaluation and the removal of the player from the game.
According to the NFL’s Health Playbook, the 2016 season is the first in which unaffiliated neurological consultants (UNCs) have been appointed to work alongside teams’ medical staff members to assist in monitoring head and neck injuries during games.
Newton did not question the lack of penalties or evaluation.
“It’s not my job to question the officials. I really like this officiating crew,” Newton said during a postgame press conference. “It wasn’t something that I know they did intentionally. But it’s not fun getting hit in the head.”
Some of his teammates feel differently.
Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis told the Charlotte Observer that he thinks that because of Newton’s unique size — at 6’5” and 245 pounds, he is one of the biggest quarterbacks in the league — officials treat him differently.
“They look at his size. It’s kind of like the NBA used to allow guys to get away with that against Shaquille O’Neal because of his size,” Davis told the paper.
“But when you dig deep down into it, they talk about player safety all the time and they need to protect that player as well.”
Just ahead of Newton's news conference, some sports reporters in Denver said that players believed to have concussions are not allowed to speak to the media.