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The National Football League needs to better protect Cam Newton from hits like the ones he took in the league's opening game Thursday night, agent Drew Rosenhaus said.
Newton, the Carolina Panthers quarterback and reigning league MVP, took multiple hits to his head from Denver Broncos defenders during the contest. The beating Newton took comes as more focus surrounds the NFL's handling of brain injuries in recent years as evidence suggests that repeated blows to the head can lead to long-term health defects. The NFL has touted improvements to its concussion protocol, but some say the league has not gone far enough to protect players.
Referees on Thursday night called a penalty after one of the blows to Newton, but many watching the contest criticized the lack of a penalty call on at least one other hit. Newton also did not leave the game to get checked for a concussion after a defender's diving strike to his head in the final minutes of the contest.
"The referees have to protect him like they would any quarterback. It doesn't matter how big and strong he is. He deserves to be protected in the same way," Rosenhaus, who represents wide receiver Antonio Brown and other stars but not Newton, said Friday on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."
"I'm a little bit surprised that the referees, the officials did not stop the game after the hit toward the end of the game to check him for a concussion. I thought that would have been merited, and I thought that was unfortunate," he said.
The NFL told CNBC in a statement that a Panthers team physician and unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant reviewed the late-game hit on Newton and "concluded there were no indications of a concussion that would require further evaluation and the removal of the player."
The NFL Players Association is looking into the situation, according to a USA Today report.