National Football League officials to review if Panthers followed concussion protocol

NFL needs to hit Panthers with steep penalty to prove they are serious about player safety

The NFL has asked the Carolina Panthers to explain their handling of quarterback Cam Newton, who was cleared to return after taking a bang on the head during Sunday's wildcard play-off loss to the New Orleans Saints. The Seattle Seahawks were fined $100,000 by the NFL last month for their handling of a concussion evaluation of quarterback Russell Wilson after the league and players' union determined that the protocols had not been followed properly in that case.

In the fourth quarter of the Panthers' wild-card matchup against the New Orleans Saints, Newton thought he'd eluded Tyeler Davison, and as he tried to stand upright he collided with defensive tackle David Onyemata. Newton took a knee as he walked toward the sideline and pointed toward his right eye.

He sat out one play, but returned on the next offensive series and finished the game.

Later, coach Ron Rivera claimed that Newton was "actually poked in the eye" and only taken to the tent as a precaution.

Newton spent time on the ground after the hit.

But he's made a special exception this year for Kalil; he also thanked the veteran tackle for allowing him to get a sack in the first meeting against the Panthers.

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"My helmet had come down low enough over my eyelid and it got pressed by the player's stomach".

"Based on what the young man (Newton) said to me, that is what I believe happened", Rivera said.

"Even if he was faking an injury to buy time, since he went down right after a massive head impact, the new National Football League concussion protocol dictates he had to go the locker room for a full evaluation", Nowinski wrote.

The Panthers were investigated once before in the 2016 season opener at Denver when Newton took a blow to the head but remained in the game.

'But if dazed Newton hadn't dropped down to the field himself, no one would have done or said a thing. "I appreciate him. So I'm gonna send him some sauce", Jordan said - an obvious reference to Newton's earlier comments. The Panthers were cleared in that situation.

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