Panthers Facing Questions About Cam Newton's Quick Return

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The NFL and NFL Players Association are conducting a joint review into how the Carolina Panthers handled the concussion protocol as it related to a fourth-quarter hit on quarterback Cam Newton in Sunday's NFC playoff loss at New Orleans. The Seattle Seahawks were fined $100,000 by the NFL last month for their handling of a concussion evaluation of quarterback Russell Wilson after the league and players' union determined that the protocols had not been followed properly in that case. One of those modifications came into play Sunday with Newton: The change requires any player who falls or stumbles after suffering a potential head injury to be taken to the locker room for a concussion evaluation.

Head coach Ron Rivera and interim general manager Marty Hurney both said Monday they believe the Panthers acted properly after Newton took a big hit to the head in the fourth quarter of the 31-26 loss to New Orleans.

Panthers officials maintained Monday that Newton, following instructions from the sideline, took a knee so backup QB Derek Anderson could get warmed up.

Newton missed only one offensive play after he was evaluated in the medical tent on the Panthers sideline and cleared to play. The Saints won the game, 31-26, sacking Newton on the game's final play. A sideline evaluation is not sufficient, under the modified rules.

A change in the National Football League concussion protocol enacted last month states: "A player who stumbles and/or falls to the ground when trying to stand, unrelated to an orthopedic injury, should be sent directly to the locker room to undergo the standard locker room exam".

"This "Cam Newton's visor poked him in the eye" is the greatest storyline in the history of sports", Nowinski said.

Jordan said the hit that Newton absorbed was significant.

The Panthers' handling Sunday of Newton's injury drew criticism by Chris Nowinski, the founding CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. After the Week 3 game, Jordan made some jokes about Newton's fashion choices.

Goodell and other NFL officials have said the league's concussion-related rules are created to put return-to-play decisions in the hands of doctors and medical personnel, without any consideration given to competitive concerns. We saw him rock back and forth. And I think David Onyemata shut that door for him.

"Yeah, you know, Carolina picked him up so the brothers could reunite", Jordan said.