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Headhunting

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Opening day showed both the exciting and ugly sides of the NFL. The Broncos were able to come back against the Panthers in large measure because of the injuries they were able to inflict on the other teams QB. What’s worse is that between inept officiating and strange quirks in NFL rules, the Broncos were penalized a net of zero yards for multiple illegal hits that changed the course of the game, injured the most important player on the opposing team, and could well affect Carolina’s season going forward:

The Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers tonight, 21-20, in a thrilling game that was marred by serial headhunting from the fearsome Broncos defense. Cam Newton led the Panthers to a 17-7 halftime lead with 111 passing yards, a rushing touchdown, and a passing touchdown. After the break, he only went 7-for-16 with a pick and 83 yards. This is because the Broncos got to him and mashed his face in every chance they got.

Newton looked good until early in the third quarter, when DeMarcus Ware got around the edge and sacked him straight into Von Miller. Newton hobbled to the sideline with an apparent right ankle injury, and he was a step slower after returning to the game. The replay also shows that Miller smashed his face into Newton’s and clearly jarred him with the hit. Later in the game, Brandon Marshall flew in on a defenseless Newton and went straight at his mouth. No penalty was called.

The most brutal hit, however, came courtesy of Darian Stewart, who flew into Cam’s brain as Shaq Barrett took him down by the ankles. Since Cam’s feeble throw didn’t clear the line of scrimmage, Stewart’s personal foul was offset and the hit was essentially free.

[…]

When officials let the Broncos get away with that first hit, they set the game on slippery ground, as the Broncos were then incentivized to continue going at Newton’s dome. Newton managed to make all manner of plays when his offensive line afforded him sufficient time, so the Broncos set out to make the most of any chance they got. Unfortunately, this turned into repeat attempts to turn Cam Newton’s brain into jelly. If they were trying to knock him out of the game, they almost succeeded.

But at least no footballs were deflated, so there’s nothing that warrants a suspension or anything.

[PC]:

Here’s the NFL’s explanation for why Newton wasn’t taken out of the game to be evaluated for a possible concussion:

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport obtained an explanation from a league spokesman about the situation:

“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 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.”

Given the NFL’s emphasis on improving player safety, the situation surrounding Newton could lead to further inquiry, including questions about how consultants can conclude from video that Newton didn’t suffer a concussion without medical personnel speaking directly to the player during the game.

OK then.

Seriously, they’re still barely pretending to care.

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