The overriding controversy overshadowing the Denver Broncos’ 21-20 season-opening victory revolved around whether medical personnel should have evaluated Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton for a concussion after taking a series of vicious hits to the head.
The hit that sparked the most controversy occurred near the end of the game, when Newton was clobbered by Broncos defensive back Darian Stewart after throwing the ball away.
The hit itself was bad enough. But, many watching from home speculated that Newton had sustained a concussion on that hit specifically. Yet, Newton was not evaluated by medical personnel and didn’t miss a play.
So why didn’t independent medical personnel evaluate the 2015 MVP? They didn’t see any indications of a concussion, according to an explanation provided by the league.
“During stoppage in play while on-field officials were in the process of administering penalties, the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant and team physician requested video from the spotters and reviewed the play,” the league said in a statement provided by NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. “They concluded there were no indications of a concussion that would require further evaluation and the removal of the player from the game.”
Essentially, the league is saying that despite the jarring hit and Newton’s concerning reaction, there was no reason to evaluate him for a concussion. Whether that’s a legitimate explanation or not will depend on whether Newton is ultimately diagnosed with a concussion in the coming days.
Newton went on to finish the game and actually got the Panthers into field goal range. But, after being frozen by Broncos coach Gary Kubiak, Carolina kicker Graham Gano shanked the would-be game-winning field goal.