With questions looming regarding whether proper concussion protocol was followed when Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton took a hit to the head late in the team's Week 1 loss to the Denver Broncos, former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira called out the officials for mishandling the situation.
According to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk, Pereira said on PFT Live that Gene Steratore and his officiating crew should have mandated that Newton leave the field after the hit:
Certainly, I thought, 'Oh my God, the league is going to be upset that this is what happens in game No. 1.' What disappointed me the most was how they basically went against protocol with 36 seconds to go. The shot Cam took from Stewart on the offsetting fouls, protocol has Cam out of the game, and it starts with the referees.
The hit by safety Darian Stewart occurred with Carolina trailing by just one point late in the game, but Pereira made it clear that shouldn't have been prioritized over proper protocol: "Did they consider the fact that there was only 36 seconds to go and Carolina was behind and that factored into the decision? If that's the case, then the league is speaking out of both sides of their mouth."
The NFLPA announced Sunday it would launch an investigation to determine if the league followed the correct procedures regarding Newton.
While the officials' seemingly shoddy handling of Newton sparked plenty of controversy, the reigning league MVP refused to dwell on the situation, according to NFL.com's Conor Orr:
My job is to win football games. My job is not to lobby for my health. I feel as if there's been times that I've been taking hits, they haven't been called. But that's understandable. Sometimes I've been hit and they have been called. So I just can't point a finger and say I haven't got no calls because I have.
Although Newton isn't worried, the NFL can ill afford to drop the ball when it comes to player safety, especially in the wake of Wednesday's announcement that the league has invested $100 million in an initiative focused largely on preventing and learning about head injuries.
There is little doubt that $100 million could go a long way toward making strides in protecting players, but it will be rendered moot if the league doesn't follow the current system as intended.
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