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Debunking the “Cam ducked his head” nonsense

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 08:  Quarterback Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers begs for a call after getting hit and throws an incomplete pass in the first half against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 8, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

Thursday night’s shades-of-Bountygate attack on Cam Newton by the Broncos included among other illegal hits a helmet-to-helmet blow initiated by Denver safety Darian Stewart. Since the game ended, a theory has emerged that the hit complied with the rules because Newton ducked his head, setting up the helmet-to-helmet contact.

Stewart acknowledged the theory with appreciation on anti-social media, and former NFL defensive back and brand-new ESPN employee Charles Woodson pushed the concept during a Sunday morning appearance on SportsCenter.

Here’s the problem with that interpretation of the rules. It’s an incorrect interpretation of the rules.

Defensive players still can’t hit passers with the helmet, even if it’s not a helmet-to-helmet blow. Stewart was going to strike Newton with a helmet somewhere on Newton’s body; wherever the contact happened, Stewart violated the rules that give passers added protection.

It’s one thing for fans to not know the rules. It’s quite another for the analysts employed by the NFL’s broadcast partners to disseminate inaccurate assessments of what is and isn’t allowed. In this case, it’s less on Woodson and more on the producers, who surely knew what Woodson planned to say — and who didn’t intervene to tell him that he was getting it flat wrong.

Still, the fact that Woodson didn’t know the rules despite playing in the NFL from 1998 through 2015 is alarming, and it invites speculation as to how many other players don’t know the rules.

Maybe they’re all getting their bad information from broadcast partners who aren’t ensuring that the right information is being provided.

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25 Responses to “Debunking the “Cam ducked his head” nonsense”
  1. jpmcarlo says: Sep 11, 2016 10:55 AM

    I’m so sick of this site and its pandering to the two biggest cry babies in the league. Tom Brady is a known cheater who has been caught multiple times and was suspended more for the cover up than for the crime. Cam Newton wants to dance and taunt his opponents every time he does something good and cry foul every time things don’t go his way. It looked to me like Stewart was trying to deliver a blow to the chest with his shoulder pad and the way Cam ducked he ended up getting a helmet instead. Newton isn’t hurt so let it go and stop trying to make something out of nothing………

  2. trailerparkking says: Sep 11, 2016 10:56 AM

    In fairness, plenty of NFL analysts get things wrong. Ever listen to Phil Sims cover a game? Also, these rules have evolved so much over the last 5 years that they are confusing. Plus there’s no consistency between calls so many are left scratching their heads.
    I miss seeing defenses being able to intimidate and dominate the offense.
    Jack Lambert was right, “Put a skirt on em!”
    The NFL is too soft theae days.

  3. johnstofa says: Sep 11, 2016 11:04 AM

    Same guy who was a Shazier apologist for his Gio Bernard hit. Whatever dude.

  4. peytonwantsaflag says: Sep 11, 2016 11:13 AM

    You beat me to it johnstofa but yeah, pft did everything short of calling out myth busters to justify that Shazier hit.

  5. peytonwantsaflag says: Sep 11, 2016 11:18 AM

    so by this logic, since Camera is always a passer if he’s behind the line of scrimmage a defender can never hit him anywhere with his helmet.

    Sorry can’t work that way, there are, and should be, different rules for “supermen”

  6. draculalambert says: Sep 11, 2016 11:19 AM

    Cam looked so woozy. I’m sure he doesn’t remember most of the game.

  7. paulieorkid says: Sep 11, 2016 11:21 AM

    Why does one find so many legendary NFL DBs named Woodson, and yet there is an absolute dearth of Woodsons at all of the other positions combined?

    DB Beasts named Woodson:
    Rod Woodson
    Darren Woodson
    Charles Woodson

    NFL Beasts at all other positions named Woodson:

  8. realitycheckbaby says: Sep 11, 2016 11:27 AM

    Even posters don’t know the rules.

    When tackling it’s illegal to lead with your head, period.

    Doesn’t matter who, when or where.

    Having said that, Cam wants to run, dive head first and not protect himself, players are going to hit him like a running back.

  9. blackqbwhiterb says: Sep 11, 2016 11:33 AM

    Nobody cries for Ben R when it happens to him a LOT….
    But there’s no helping it many times. At game speed, collisions happen. I’ve long contended that Harrison’s hit on Colt McCoy wasn’t intentional. As two players see they’re about to collide, they instinctively duck their heads. Clearly McCoy lowered his head as he braced for impact. Harrison couldn’t help that.
    Anyhow, I hope the unfair shots on Big Ben continue tomorrow. Hail!!

  10. thevikes85 says: Sep 11, 2016 11:43 AM

    Guys don’t get too worked up by this fools opinions that he spews like facts.He’s only a blogger,a fan like the rest of us.Not even a real journalist so when his bias shows,like it does with Brady or whatever,remember he doesn’t need to be objective and just present facts,his emotions cloud reason sometimes

  11. johnstofa says: Sep 11, 2016 11:52 AM

    Actually vikes he has crossed over. PFT has a daily televis ion segment, and he jumps on every show he can as an “analyst”.

    He built his credibility with a great network of contacts and the ability to break interesting and relevant information. Judging by the huge drop off in reader comments I’m guessing his street cred is slipping.

  12. wimpyburgers says: Sep 11, 2016 11:57 AM

    When the new rule was first created, Marshawn Lynch was still doing “Beastmode.” He was notorious for initiating contact as he bulled through defenders head first. And a big topic was whether Lynch would get a penalty if he tucked his head.

    As it turned out, Lynch adapted his signature style while remaining delightfully aggressive and haughty. Russell Wilson acts like a RB, but he protects himself by sliding feet first and running out of bounds after he’s gained the needed yardage

    I realize Newton is a QB, but in the opening game he was diving head first, acting like a RB. I think the refs saw what he was doing and adjusted their judgment; and the defense took its cue from there.

  13. codysmart says: Sep 11, 2016 12:00 PM

    Helmets are going to hit some part of the body if you are making almost any type of proper tackle. The rule needs to be revisited. Save the penalties for when players use their head as the primary point of contact.

  14. lapantherfan86 says: Sep 11, 2016 12:21 PM

    jpmcarlo says:
    Sep 11, 2016 10:55 AM
    Cam Newton wants to dance and taunt his opponents every time he does something good and cry foul every time things don’t go his way.

    Yeah the problem with that is that Cam isn’t “crying foul” about anything. Watch his post game interview. He didn’t blame the refs at all. Although I’d love to see how the Cam haters react to their inferior QBs getting multiple head shots in a game without a flag.

  15. tangovader says: Sep 11, 2016 12:23 PM

    I like Woodson but Countdown looked horrible today. Maybe it was opening day jitters, but there was no chemistry, and the comments were all over the place. With all their flaws, the previous group (Jackson, Key, Carter and Coach) at least worked well together. If this is what it’s going to look like going forward, blow it up now. Bring in Tre and the Insiders Team or give it to Suzy C. and Steve Young. And please for the love of all things holy, put Berman out to pasture. Worst of all, he didn’t even have the class to lead off the show with a shot to his long time partner Tom Jackson. Joke.

  16. xavier179 says: Sep 11, 2016 12:23 PM

    What a crock, this was deliberate head hunting!

  17. aj66shanghai says: Sep 11, 2016 12:32 PM

    Cam’s back to being Cam, a very athletic big guy who is also a terrible person and not very committed to improving as a player or teammate. He won’t sniff another Super Bowl in his decidedly non-HOF career. Loser

  18. ineptguy8 says: Sep 11, 2016 12:34 PM

    Every now and then we get these posts. The head is connected to the shoulders. It is impossible to not lead with your head. You can have your head up so as not to lead with the crown of the helmet. That is proper tackling, but last I checked there is no way to remove the head from the shoulders. When the defenders hit with their face mask in the center of the chest, that is textbook. Physics dictates that often after initial contact the helmet will slide up and hit the offensive players helmet. You can’t stop that. The only way to regulate that out of the game is to force players to go at the waist and below. No player wants that.

    There was no targeting of heads. Stop with the whining.

  19. joshsmith199065 says: Sep 11, 2016 1:05 PM

    ‘Cam Newton wants to dance and taunt his opponents every time he does something good and cry foul every time things don’t go his way’

    So taking the high road and saying that he doesn’t believe that he was targeted etc is crying foul?

    Doesn’t Phillip Rivers taunt/trash talk defenders on nearly every first down to touchdown? Damn sure does and he doesn’t get hit to the head that many times in a game

    ‘ It looked to me like Stewart was trying to deliver a blow to the chest with his shoulder pad and the way Cam ducked he ended up getting a helmet instead.’

    Good lord, Stewart displayed poor tackling form from the get go. What ever happen to wrapping up and aiming at the around the waist? Deliver that hit to a Tom Brady, Brees or Rodgers and that’s an automatic 15 yard penalty

    At the end of the day aren’t defensive players not allowed to make contact quarterbacks helmet? Hell Derrick Johnson was called a personal foul for slapping Derek Carr in the face

    The lions defender being called a 15 yard penalty for laying 2 to 3 fingers on Rodgers facemask( giving them another chance on the hail mary pass)

    The truth of the matter is Ben R, Cam N better buck up their chip scrap and just accept they’ll never get the calls that the Brady’s, Brees, Rodgers of the world will get.

  20. stexan says: Sep 11, 2016 1:09 PM

    I think Cam Newton is an arrogant immature jerk.

    That said, Stewart’s hit was a deliberate launch with the crown of the helmet to his head – absolutely head hunting with the intention of knocking him out of the game.

  21. blackula72 says: Sep 11, 2016 1:55 PM

    Since when has the truth been a prerequisite to an ESPN story.

  22. morbidtaint says: Sep 12, 2016 1:08 AM

    If it was unintentional, why did they go after his head 4 or 5 times? If Cam ducking his head was the problem, why did he jump up to hit him? The Broncos actively went after Newton’s head because the refs weren’t calling it. People want to talk about the fact that Cam can run makes him a running back to excuse these hits. It’s illegal to put the crown of your helmet into the head of a running back as well. It’s the same for all other players. I don’t have the exact wording of the rule handy but it states that any helmet to helmet shot lead by the crown of the helmet to the helmet, face mask, or neck area on any player is against the rules. “Cam is arrogant” or “Cam is too big” or “Cam is more like a running back” are bad excuses.

  23. milehighmagik7 says: Sep 13, 2016 7:36 AM

    Please show me a tackle where the defenders head is not down in someway at all. Even if they hit him shoulder first his head is still down to some degree and would still be leading with it. After all your head is always infront of your shoulders

  24. milehighmagik7 says: Sep 13, 2016 7:37 AM

    Also the Broncos don’t need to have a bounty or have a need to hurt or knock Cam out of the game. Cams never beaten them

  25. johnniemayes says: Sep 13, 2016 4:29 PM

    Cam also ducked in to the hit from Von Miller. Plain and simple, NFL needs to put these penalties on replays if they’re serious and if an offensive player ducks their head before the hit the penalty should be nullified.

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