By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) One game into the season, the NFL finds itself scrambling to explain why one of its marquee players was allowed to be abused by multiple head-shots without so much as a cursory examination for a possible concussion.
The Denver Broncos targeted the head of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton all night Thursday, with the star taking four distinct helmet-to-helmet impacts. Only one of them was flagged, and even that by Darian Stewart ended up being offset and essentially unpunished.
As Newton remained face down on the ground in a way that is defined clearly by the NFL as an immediate trigger to its in-game concussion protocol — “Slow to get up following a hit to the head” — exactly nothing happened to ensure his safety. It was a mockery of every talking point offered by the league about how much they care about protecting players.
Nothing from the trained spotter in the press box and no attention provided by the supposedly independent neurologist on the sidelines. The league issued a statement Friday morning to explain, claiming all responsible medical parties reviewed video at the time and “concluded there were no indications of a concussion that would require further evaluation and the removal of the player from the game.”
So being limp on the turf after the fourth (!) head shot wasn’t cause enough to even have a doctor or trainer so much as talk to him right away.
Questioned by reporters after the game, Newton said he didn’t know if he had been placed in any protocol, nor could he recall what questions he was asked just moments before by team medical staff, saying, “There’s too much going through my head right now for me to remember that.”
“I feel sh—y,” he said.
So should the league for so obviously endangering Cam Newton.