There’s a strange subplot to the question of whether the Panthers failed to properly conduct a concussion evaluation after quarterback Cam Newton took a blow to the head and then stumbled to the ground while exiting the field in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Saints. According to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer, the Panthers now admit that Newton was embellishing whatever injury he had, in order to give backup Derek Anderson time to loosen up.
It’s a stunning admission, with the Panthers consciously picking the lesser of two evils. In lieu of admitting that Newton ended up on his knees because he was unable to finish his left-foot-right-foot path to the sideline, the Panthers are essentially admitting that they gamed the system, ordering Newton to pretend he was hurt more than he was so that Anderson could become more ready than he would have been.
Sorry, Panthers, but that’s the risk of operating under false pretenses. When you deliberately play make believe, there’s a chance someone will believe you. And if Newton’s manifestation of symptoms was to be believed, the recent adjustments to the concussion protocol mandated a locker-room concussion evaluation, not a quick and perfunctory “how many fingers?” exercise in the blue medical tent.
So that should be a lesson to all other teams: If you’re going to tell your starting quarterback to flop after getting banged up in order to give his backup a chance to not flop while playing, the price you’ll pay is waiting for the starting quarterback to be cleared via a concussion evaluation performed in the locker room.