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Tag: Drew Brees

Cam Newton Should Finally Find QB Protection in NE

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

If Cam Newton had not become a quarterback, what position could he play?

At 6-foot-5, 248 pounds, he might make for a Gronk-like tight end. Or perhaps he’d be a Danielle Hunteresque defensive end. Man, a man that big, with Newton’s strength and speed (4.59 in the 40) could have quite an impact on the game.

If he’s not too busy getting impacted that is.

Cameron Jerrell Newton has always been a polarizing figure – from being an oversized prep quarterback, to getting kicked out of Florida after the theft of a computer, to winning the Heisman Trophy and national championship at Auburn, to becoming one of the few black quarterbacks in the NFL, to his marvelously dapper wardrobe – Cam always found the cameras or vice versa.

As did defensive players.

They found Cam’s ribs, back, foot, shoulder and head. Especially his head.

Newton has only been diagnosed with one concussion, that coming in October of 2016. He absorbed at least three other helmet-to-helmet hits that season that drew no flag. After a 30-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals in 2016, Newton let his frustration be known.

“It’s really taken the fun out of the game for me, honestly, because, at times, I don’t even feel safe.”

Anyone who saw the Mack truck-like hit he took from the Saints’ David Onyemata in Jan. 7, 2018 playoff game knows Newton wasn’t on Canal Street, he was a on Queer Street. Onyemata’s hit was clean but Newton has taken more questionable hits to the head, and questionable late hits than any quarterback in the concussion era.

Newton, who agreed to a one-year deal with the Patriots on Sunday, now has a chance to go from being the least protected starting quarterback in the NFL, to the signal caller of the franchise that has had the most protected starting quarterback in league history – Tom Brady.

Remember when Brady suffered his season-ending knee injury in 2008? The NFL quickly enacted a rule that forbids defenders on the ground from lunging at a quarterback’s legs. The Brady Rule as it’s known.

The Newton Rule? Thou Shalt Be Pummeled.

Newton was on the receiving end of a “Brady Hit,” in 2016. No penalty flag was thrown although Arizona’s Calais Campbell subsequently was fined $18,231.

“Enough is enough,’’ said Newton. “I don’t think there’s a person that can go through what I go through and still keep their head, you know what I’m saying? Hits to the head, that’s one thing, but when you’re not protected in the pocket, that’s another thing. The story of my life ever since I came in [to the league] is just, ‘Oh, oh, well, we missed that one, I’m sorry.’ That’s bull crap.”

And remember the time in 2015 when he was hit late on the sideline after throwing a pass. He accused ref Ed Hochuli of saying, “Cam, you’re not old enough to get that call.”

Brady would have gotten that call. Drew Brees would have. Aaron Rodgers. Russell Wilson. Patrick Mahomes. Flag. Flag. Flag. Flag. Flag.

It makes one wonder why Newton hasn’t been afforded the recipient of protection given to players of the NFL’s marquee position. Is it that Newton is so much bigger and stronger than most quarterbacks that he can take it?

Or is it that he is a big, strong, handsome black man as opposed to a big strong handsome white man, such as Brady? Is that microaggression on the part of the suddenly woke NFL or is it macroaggression considering the injuries Newton has sustained? Broken rib. Broken vertebra. Foot surgery. Shoulder surgery. Concussion.

No matter now. Soon after news broke that the Patriots had signed Newton to a financially low-risk, one-year deal to compete for Brady’s job, it was hailed as perfect fit. And it is. Although New England says it has faith in Jarrett Stidham, the Patriots have a win-now roster and a 68-year-old coach-in-chief.

Newton was the 2015 NFL MVP. Stidham was the 2018 Music City Bowl MVP.

It’s Newton’s job to lose. And this time, he should feel safe.

Not only do the 2020 Patriots have a better line than any of the ones Newton played for in Carolina, but he is now part of the Bill Belichick Death Star Dynasty. He will don the protective cloak known as the New England Patriots jersey and immediately become the recipient of questionable calls.

It’s part of the Patriot Way – Do Your Job; Get the Call.

In their 2018 Super Bowl run, the Patriots were the beneficiaries of overturned touchdown calls, not once, not twice, but three times! “It’s dumb,” former safety Rodney Harrison told reporters of the Pats’ perceived preferential officiating. “Everyone hates us.”

Well, true. The Pats are hated because they are the worst kind of cheaters – successful cheaters – Spygate, Deflategate, and now Filmgate. Six Super Bowls.

The NFL just wrist-slapped the Patriots by taking a 2021 third-round pick and $1.1 million in fine for Filmgate, but Belichick trades third-round picks like penny stocks and a $1.1 million fine might as well be Bitcoin currency for a franchise valued at $3.7 billion.

This is Cam’s new team. He will benefit from an excellent coach/GM in Belichick. His skill set will be optimized by offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. He doesn’t have a great receiving corps but Julian Edelman is better than anyone Newton had in Carolina – sorry Kelvin Benjamin.

Most of all, Newton will have the protection he never had. He’ll be a Patriot.

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College Football Faces a Question It Can’t Ignore

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

 The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com

What a rejuvenating day in the greatest city in the world. You could get your hair done, eat lunch outdoors, pray in the house of worship of your choice and frolic with your kids in a playground.

Just thinking about tossing the football on a gorgeous summer day and pretend to be Brees to Thomas evokes the feeling you experience when you enter The Big House or Memorial Stadium (Clemson, Nebraska, USC, et al) or the Rose Bowl and see the sun set on the San Gabriel mountains.

The first college football games are scheduled to kick off less than three months from Saturday. Georgia plays Virginia 11 weeks from today. A lot can happen in three months as we have painfully learned. Our world came to a terrifying, screeching halt three months ago when a disease of our nightmares became a reality.

Many of us have lost loved ones and jobs. Businesses have folded. Vacations cancelled. Schools redefined. No hugging. No handshakes. Masks.

How glorious will it be to walk through the parking lot of any college campus on a football Saturday or Thursday night. Alums from the Class of 1960, proudly wearing their varsity sweater, tailgating next to students in the Class of 2021, audaciously donning their university tank top.

Frisbees wheeling overhead as games of Cornhole draw laughter when a contestant flat out misses the 2×4 foot board. Cold beer. Barbecue. Eight-foot subs. Grandma’s collard greens. Hot Dogs. Burgers. Dad’s baked beans. Coleslaw. Peach cobbler.

Did we mention cold beer?

Cheerleaders and mascots leading teams out of the tunnel. Boomer Schooner not tipping over. “R! U!” “Go Canes!” “Hook ‘em Horns!”

Kickoff!

In some 35 years of covering sports, nothing has been more thrilling on a consistent basis than college football: LSU at night. Notre Dame on a crisp autumn afternoon. The view from Husky Stadium. The entire stadium swaying at Kyle Field when Aggie War Hymn is sung. Wisconsin’s Jump!

The “Iowa Wave,” the best new tradition in college football – by far.

Since March Madness was canceled, college football became my lighthouse for the return of live sports. Late-August/early-September was far enough away to be seen and hope games would be played.

It remains only a hope. Now a fading hope.

Some 30 players at defending champion LSU have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Clemson has reported 23. Kanas State, 14 and Houston, 6. Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Marshall have reported positive tests.

At UCLA, which is scheduled to begin “voluntary” football practice today, 30 players signed a petition demanding a third-party health official oversee COVID-19 prevention protocols because they do not believe the university will act in their best interest. Minor point here – that’s really going to help in recruiting.

 College football, you might remember, is a multi-billion business. Forget the millions being paid to head coaches and the money spent on advertising and radio rights. There are businesses in every college town – from the stadium vendors, to the small motel owners, to the local apparel stores that depend on the college football season for their livelihood.

The decision whether to play college football this fall is a monumentally difficult, emotional and complex one. Some football players that have been training, practicing and playing since Pop Warner are counting on this season to enhance their chances of a profession career.

What if playing ends that career, ends a life?

Tampa Bay pitcher Blake Snell lost the narrative when he said he wouldn’t pitch, “unless I get mine.” But he made some legitimate points: What if he contracts COVID-19 and is never able to pitch again?

Snell has a union fighting for him, albeit one that has proven to be as inept and obstinate as MLB. College football players don’t have a union. And 18-to-22-year-old males need some checks because many believe they couldn’t die of COVID-19 if they ate a raw bat.

So, here’s what needs to happen: An elite polling agency needs to anonymously survey players and learn A. Do they want to play while COVID-19 remains an active threat and B. What health procedures and policies do they want in place in order to feel confident their well-being will always be the primary concern.

Then we can make a decision on whether the season can be played. The hope is that college football has a full uninterrupted season. The hope is that two schools outside of the perennial powers make the playoff – Oregon? Texas?

The hope is that colleges and universities from sea to shining season experience that bond known as college football.

But if there’s a legitimate risk that one parent’s son dies or is physically or cognitively compromised for the rest of his life because of decisions made for the wrong reasons – greed, passion, hubris – college football’s perennial luster will be tarnished forever.