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Unnoticed illegal hits still have heavy impact

Reginald Wells

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The new NFL season began Thursday with a much-anticipated rematch of Super Bowl 50. Like always, it was a great celebration of the two best teams in the league the previous year and a preview of what is to come in this new season. Among the glory, however, lay a recurring theme that did not sit well with me. The Denver Broncos defense unleashed a barrage of illegal hits on Cam Newton.

In this new era of football, player safety is the top priority for all levels of play.  Hitting a defenseless player around the head or neck will get you ejected from the game and your team penalized quicker than anything else.  Even more measures are being taken to ensure the safety of the quarterback position. But this didn’t apply to Denver on Thursday.

Cam Newton became a target of quite a few flagless hits, but the worst came in the final minute of the game.  After throwing the ball out of bounds, a defender flew head-first right into his helmet and left him writhing in pain on the ground. The referees threw offsetting penalties, one for the hit and another for intentional grounding.

It is shameful the defender was not ejected, because that hit was blatant disregard for the rules of the game. Also, there should not have been a flag for intentional grounding; Newton was outside of the pocket when he threw the ball. Even then, the Panthers coaching staff and doctors failed to do their jobs.

Clearly, your quarterback just got hit in the helmet and is rolling in pain on the ground. Why is he not being evaluated for the concussion every football fan watching knows he probably just got? In terms of the season as a whole, this one game will not make or break it. Ensure the safety of your player. After all, it is your job.

Going back to the big picture though, this is not encouraging if this is the efficiency we get from officiating in the first game of the year. Injuries attained during the season are increasing every year, and by enforcing these unnecessary roughness penalties, referees can help limit some of these incidents. As any athlete knows, players will do anything to gain a competitive advantage without harming their team. Refs are needed to ensure the safety of the game, along with the integrity of it.

If the reigning MVP of the league isn’t protected, we might have more problems than wondering if him dabbing or any other celebration is respectful or not. More players are starting to realize there is more to life than the NFL.

Just last year, four players on the San Francisco 49ers retired. One of the retirees, Anthony Davis, said that he left football because he wanted to give his body a chance at recuperating before it was too late.

This sport we all know and love won’t be enjoyable if no one is around to actually play the game.

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The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe
Unnoticed illegal hits still have heavy impact