Crit­i­cism of of­fi­cials con­tin­ues for stars

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Howard Fendrich

If it’s a given that NFL of­fi­cials will be crit­i­cized now and then, such bad-mouthing be­comes that much more sig­nif­i­cant when some of the league’s most prom­i­nent voices — Cam New­ton, Richard Sher­man, Josh Nor­man — rise in uni­son to com­plain about the men in stripes.

Pan­thers quar­ter­back New­ton, the reign­ing near-unan­i­mous MVP, was fed up af­ter hav­ing his right knee twisted on a low shot from Car­di­nals de­fen­sive tackle Calais Camp­bell in the third quar­ter of Carolina’s 30-20 vic­tory over Ari­zona in a re­match of last sea­son’s NFC championship game.

“At times, I don’t even feel safe. And enough is enough. I plan on talk­ing to Com­mis­sioner (Roger) Good­ell about this,” New­ton said. “I don’t know what I have to do. ... I don’t think there’s a per­son that can go through what I go through and still keep their head.”

His words Sun­day came a cou­ple of months af­ter he ab­sorbed four hel­met-to-hel­met hits that re­sulted in a grand to­tal of zero penalty yards in a sea­son-open­ing loss to the Den­ver Bron­cos.

This time, New­ton noted the hits to the head while also mak­ing an im­pas­sioned plea for more pro­tec­tion in the pocket from of­fi­cials, who he’d rather have make more calls than fre­quently ex­plain they were sorry for not throw­ing a flag.

“I just can’t keep ac­cept­ing, ‘Oh, we missed that one’ or ‘I apol­o­gize for do­ing that’ or ‘I didn’t see it,’” New­ton said.

Sea­hawks cor­ner­back Sher­man and his coach, Pete Car­roll, com­plained about what they said were il­le­gal pick plays used by Saints re­ceivers as New Or­leans came back to beat Seat­tle 25-20 .

“It’s hard to play de­fense like that. It’s tough to play in this league with the way games are be­ing of­fi­ci­ated. The rules are al­ready skewed to the of­fense, but you have to fight through it and find a way to win,” said Sher­man, never shy about shar­ing his thoughts.

“It’s ob­vi­ous to the out­side world how the game was of­fici-

ated . ... I mean, the calls — or lack thereof — were pretty egre­gious.”

An­other speaks-his­mind, elite cor­ner­back, Wash­ing­ton’s Nor­man, was up­set af­ter draw­ing five flags — four for il­le­gal use of hands — while try­ing to cover Cincin­nati re­ceiver A.J. Green dur­ing the teams’ 27-all tie in Lon­don.

Nor­man called out field judge Brad Freeman by uni­form num­ber and said: “I’m just go­ing to be hon­est with you; I’m go­ing to be straight­for­ward: He was ter­ri­ble. I feel like he should be rep­ri­manded.”

No stranger to fines from the NFL, Nor­man — and New­ton and Sher­man — might be get­ting rep­ri­manded this week.

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