John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
If you were like me you emphatically yelled "Noooo!" when you saw Cam Newton writhing in pain after taking a 'bounty-like' hit from Saints DE Turk McBride in the 4th quarter of the Panthers win over the Saints. The fact was the only chance the Saints had of winning was to knock Newton out of the game. If this were 2010 McBride would have made some bank on that hit. Or would he?
I'm not sure they paid out if the QB only left for a few plays. Certainly the Saints fans applauding the Newton injury had to be surprised the OROY wasn't finished for the season. I thought Newton has a serious injury for sure but there he was suddenly getting his ankle taped. Remarkably the 'much-tougher than I would have expected' Newton limping on the sideline after getting taped looking like he wanted to go back in.
What was this madness I was seeing?
Newton had no reason to risk further injury. If McBride was going to follow through on his late hit fully knowing Newton did not have the ball then I'm sure they would try it again. Once a sleaze ball always a sleaze ball right? Newton could have simply watched the rest of this game from the sideline and no one would have questioned him.
Instead Newton did something I think better defines who he is than any commercial, interview or charity event ever could. He got back on the field with a look of determination. On his very first play after getting his ankle taped Newton rolled to his right and hit Brandon LaFell on an out pattern at the 1 yd line. Newton showed little effect from the hit from there though we knew he was in pain the whole time. FB Mike Tolbert would finish the drive with a TD and Newton and the Panthers never looked back.
Fortunately x-rays would later show Newton did not suffer any fractures and instead was diagnosed with a minor high ankle strain. Even more encouraging was the fact Newton told the Panthers trainers that if the Panthers had a game this week he would have played. This all bodes well for Panther fans. We not only have a QB with huge size but the toughness to match that size.