Marcus Gilbert, a six-year NFL veteran who has witnessed countless defenders level his star quarterback, offered some advice to Cam Newton regarding so-called “cheap shots.”
“If you’re out there and scared to take a shot, don’t be out there,” Foster told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
Newton, who has already felt the brunt of the NFL’s inability to adhere to its own concussion policy, has recently spoken out about officials’ unwillingness to penalize late-hits.
"It's really taking the fun out of the game for me - honestly, it really is," Newton said. "At times, I don't even feel safe. Enough is enough. I plan on talking to commissioner Goodell about this. It's not fun, and I don't know what I have to do."
Gilbert certainly knows a thing or two about quarterback hits, as he earns just over $6 million per year for doing his best to keep Ben Roethlisberger’s jersey clean. In fact, Roethlisberger is currently the league’s active leader in sacks taken with 450 (and nobody will come close to matching this, unless Newton or Andrew Luck play until they turn 45). Newton, meanwhile, has absorbed 201 takedowns over the course of his six-year career.
Now, Gilbert certainly has a point. Despite spending more time on the turf than the field paint, Roethlisberger has never really voiced his concerns (publicly, anyway) about a perceived “lack of safety” concerning late or illegal hits. Newton and Roethlisberger are very similar in terms of stature and playing style, so by leaving the pocket, they are absolutely prime targets for opposing defenders.
On the other hand, many fans have suggested that Newton and Roethlisberger are not treated the same as, say, Tom Brady or Drew Brees. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but if there is a noticeable disparity between the proportion of roughing calls in favor of Newton and Philip Rivers or any other “pocket passer,” the league should absolutely investigate this matter. Question Newton’s method, but at least he’s asking someone to take a closer look.
As a matter of fact, Gilbert, and other offensive lineman, should eagerly embrace any changes that make quarterbacks safer. This isn’t to say that the league needs stricter roughing policies, but who knows, maybe players like Newton, Roethlisberger, Luck, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill and any other “mobile” quarterbacks really are being treating somewhat unfairly under the current system.
Then again, maybe they aren’t. But it’s still worth a look.