*As reaction to Cam Newton’s post-game outfit dies down, backlash over anti-ref comments made by the Carolina Panthers quarterback after Sunday’s win over the Arizona Cardinals is beginning to heat up.
After taking a low hit from defensive tackle Calais Campbell in the Panthers’ 30-20 victory, Newton told reporters afterwards that he doesn’t feel safe at times and planned to file a grievance over late hits to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell because “enough is enough.”
Steelers offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert, tasked with protecting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, said he doesn’t understand the reigning MVP’s complaints about cheap shots, reports ESPN.
“Ben gets hit more than anybody in the league, and he never complains. C’mon, man. This is the game of football,” Gilbert said. “If you’re out there and you’re scared to take a shot, then don’t be out there, especially if you’re a running quarterback. [Defenses] are going to take shots at you. Just the way, his style of playing football, how he celebrates, I guess he gives the guys a chip, like let’s go hit the reigning NFL MVP.”
Gilbert, who played briefly with Newton at the University of Florida, said Cam is a “great player” and that he doesn’t believe players are trying to intentionally hurt him.
But opponents could be trying to get in Newton’s head with physical play as a response to what Newton does during and after successful runs, Gilbert said.
“When he’s running over people, he’s going to stand right up and he’s going to celebrate,” Gilbert said. “This is the game of football. I’m sure there are cornerbacks or linebackers, whoever he’s running over, the safeties, they aren’t complaining about getting run over or getting crowned, facemask to facemask with the quarterback from a guy his size. Of course, guys are going to take shots … I don’t think anybody is trying to purposefully hurt him, but you’re going to get those extra hits, especially against such a great player.”
Gilbert continued, “If you don’t like it, then tell the coach or the coordinator to change the whole game plan. Try to do something to protect you, because back a couple of years ago, when Ben was getting hit a lot, we had to change our offense a little bit, put in a little extra protection to help him stay upright because he is the franchise player.”
Since 2014, Roethlisberger has averaged less than two sacks per game as part of a quick-strike passing game.
Late hits on Newton began making headlines after the quarterback missed Week 5 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to a concussion. He also took several physical hits from the Denver Broncos in Week 1 that did not draw penalties.
Gilbert wasn’t the only one telling Newton to go sit down. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith chimed in on “First Take”: