National Football League officials to review if Panthers followed concussion protocol

Cam Newton

Newton walked toward the Panthers' sideline and appeared to stumble to the turf as trainers met him a few yards from the bench area.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is tended to by medical personnel after being sacked in the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. He was surprised to see Newton return to the game, he said.

The league and the players union changed its concussion protocol last month after Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage returned to the field after having a concussion that left the quarterback's hands shaking after a hit.

But the Panthers' announced Newton instead was tested for a concussion in the blue sideline tent, cleared and permitted to return to the game. - after missing only one play.

"He took a hit".

Ron Rivera said after the game that Newton had been poked in the eye. "And it was really getting poked in the eye".

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"Based on what the young man (Newton) said to me, that is what I believe happened", Rivera said. I hate that I couldn't do enough to get a win today for a lot of guys that I think so highly of.

'I know it was precautionary things for a concussion, but it wasn't a hit to the head it was my eye, ' he said.

Hurney said Newton intentionally took a knee because he was told to by the team's training staff so Carolina could get an official timeout, thus allowing backup quarterback Derek Anderson a chance to warm up.

This isn't the first time the Panthers have been investigated for how it has handled the protocol. The league and union conducted a review a year ago after Newton took a helmet-to-helmet shot near the end of a Week 1 loss at Denver, but remained in the game.

The Panthers could be subject to a fine of up to $150,000 if it's found they erred in implementing the protocol.

The Seattle Seahawks were fined $100,000, and the team's coaching and medical staffs were required to attend medical training regarding the concussion protocol, after a joint review determined the club did not properly evaluate quarterback Russell Wilson following a hard tackle during a November 9 game against Arizona.

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