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Cam Newton was right about a dangerous, illegal hit referees missed

Newton thought a low hit from Calais Campbell was illegal, and the NFL says he was right.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton took a low hit from Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell in Carolina’s 30-20 win over Arizona on Sunday, and Newton thought the Campbell should have been flagged. The NFL agrees.

Campbell went low and dove at Newton’s legs while Newton was still in the pocket. According to ESPN’s Ed Werder, league sources said Campbell should have been penalized for the hit.

After the game, Newton said the hit could have torn his ACL and that the hit was “the breaking point” for him.

"It's taking the fun out of the game for me," Newton said.

Newton said he planned to speak with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about the matter. According to Werder, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera spoke directly to Goodell and to other league executives on Monday about the missed calls against Newton. Carolina GM Dave Gettleman spoke to Goodell, also.

The NFL has rules in place to protect quarterbacks, but once a quarterback becomes a runner, all bets are off. So far this season, officials have thrown just one flag on any Panthers opponent for roughing the passer, but Newton has been hit 212 times total, which is more than any other quarterback in the league.

Despite the lack of flags thrown in Newton’s favor, the NFL tweaked its concussion protocol after Newton took multiple hits to the head in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos. A helmet-to-helmet hit from Falcons linebacker Deion Jones on a two-point conversion attempt in Week 4 left Newton with a concussion, but that hit was deemed legal by the NFL.

Rivera thinks Newton’s size is part of the reason he doesn’t get the calls other quarterbacks might get.

"He's a bigger guy for that position, as opposed to some of the smaller guys,'' Rivera said. "When they get hit, they roll around to the ground. When he gets hit, he absorbs them and it doesn't look as bad.”

Regardless of the reason officials kept the flags in their pockets when Campbell hit Newton low on Sunday, the NFL acknowledges they were wrong to do so.