Earlier today, during a visit with my friend (partially sarcastic, partially not) Nick Wright of FS1 as he guest-hosted The Herd, Wright asked whether other quarterbacks would have drawn the same flag thrown last night on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton for prematurely entering the field of play in celebration of a 94-yard interception return for a touchdown by Carolina linebacker A.J. Klein.
The easy (and correct) answer is yes, especially in light of the renewed emphasis on keeping off the field people who shouldn’t be on the field. The impetus came in the playoffs, when Steelers assistant coach Joey Porter was on the field at a time when he shouldn’t have been, baiting Bengals cornerback Adam Jones into a foul that helped seal a Pittsburgh victory.
Per a league source, officials visiting teams in advance of the 2016 season have made it clear that flags will be thrown when any coach or player is on the field at a time he shouldn’t be. As the source put it, the warnings have become “excessive.”
With the first batch of games happening on Thursday night, Newton entered the field when he shouldn’t have, and he drew a flag.
As mentioned previously, none of it matters because it happened in the preseason. Moving forward, no one can say they didn’t know about the importance of staying off the field.
Still, with the onus on the players to stay off the field, the onus likewise will be on the officials to throw a flag when violations occur. There were last night; they need to be whenever it happens in the future.