Cam Newton apologized Sunday for bumping official Jerome Boger during the Carolina Panthers’ 17-6 win over the Oakland Raiders, though he was less apologetic for kicking Tommy Kelly in the game.
Newton was steamed after what he likely felt was a late hit from Raiders safety Mike Mitchell in the fourth quarter. Newton got up immediately after being driven into the turf and aggressively stepped to the referee. He likely was trying to make sure Boger would call a penalty for a late hit, but he ended up penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct because he bumped the official.
Boger reportedly said after the game that Newton was penalized for disrespecting him, not for contacting him. He also said the bump was not malicious. Newton apologized for his actions after the game and apologized to Boger.
The second-year quarterback is lucky he wasn’t ejected for making contact with Boger, but he can expect to receive a fine from the league.
Newton also got feisty earlier in the game following a sack by the Raiders. Newton felt Kelly was interfering with him after the play, so he kicked him.
“I was trying to get up. I was trying to get up. … Nothing good happens when you’re at the bottom of a pile. With me looking at the replay I realize it looked like I kicked him but I was just trying to get up as fast as I could and get to the next play. He fell a certain type of way, then he put his hands in my face,” Newton said after the game, per NFL.com.
Mitchell thinks he knows why Newton was upset.
“I don’t think he liked to get hit; he was doing a lot of complaining,” Mitchell said via Paul Gutierrez. “This is full-speed tackle football.”
I have no doubt that Newton kicking Kelly was a natural reaction to whatever was happening to him in that pile, but he has no excuse for bumping the referee. He needs to keep his emotions in check to avoid being penalized. In hindsight, he’s lucky he wasn’t ejected from the game.