We've all heard of Cam's complaint by now. In the post-game press conference, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton claimed that Ed Hochuli told him "You're not old enough to get that call" or words to that effect. Hochuli vehemently denies that, claiming he told Newton "You were running." The tape would seem to back up Hochuli.
The Tale of the Tape
Yes, the camera's a little jumpy, but two things jump out at me regarding Newton's claim, plus one thing about Cam and his history of play on the field.
One - Hoculi, contrary to his verbose persona, didn't appear to be talking enough to say all that. To Cam's side, Hochuli is turned to Cam with his back to the camera for a second or two.
Two - The last words out of Hochuli's mouth are pretty clear, if you have a little knowledge of the situation and the English language, and how a person's mouth MUST look to form certain sounds. "You were running" vs. "....enough to get that call" would look completely different, if you watch someone say the two phrases. You can get in a mirror and try it yourself. You mouth will poke out more saying "You were," then stretch horizontally to say "running." It would be opening and closing vertically more to say "get that call" as the sounds are completely different.
I'm no lip-reading expert, just someone with 48 years of experience watching people talk all day every day, so we're ALL 'experts' in it to a degree. If you try and keep an unbiased view of things, watch the tape, and give Hochuli a fair shake, I think any truly unbiased observer would have to conclude Hochuli's account looks a lot closer to the truth than Cam's account.
Is Cam Newton a Liar?
In saying this, I realize it paints Cam as a liar, but I don't look at it quite like that, and here's why.
I think everyone can agree that Newton and Hochuli both know darned well what was actually said, due to their proximity. The exchange didn't appear heated, but players ROUTINELY lobby for penalty flags in their favor. I think we can all agree on that, too. Cam simply took things a step too far in his youthful exuberance without fully thinking through the consequences of doing so. That's what young people often do, and with no actual malice on their part. Cam was simply walking a line with Hochuli and in the post-game presser, he probably let a certain feeling that, again, we ALL have cloud his judgement and it's something that actually DOES have some truth to it: That the "elites" get the calls that others don't.
This brings me back to what I said at the top about Cam's play on the field - he's a known "flopper." Heck, most offensive guys are to some degree. WRs over-react to anything a covering DB does and they mimic throwing a flag on about every incomplete pass where they were targeted. QBs over-react to a minimal nudge or hit or try to get the flag on a bang-bang play where the rules don't call for one. It's a part of the game everybody plays.
For example, a few years back, the NBA had to make a rule saying it's illegal to "flop," the problem had gotten so bad - and with bad actors. The NFL may have to follow suit soon, and this play will be near the top of the list of reasons why. Not the play itself so much but the aftermath. Cam knows Hochuli isn't the most popular official, he knows everybody flops, and he knows that, at least the impression out there is, that the Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys of the NFL get those roughing calls.
The thing is, neither of them are mobile, either. They run about as often as a Blood Moon appears, and as such (not being a "runner"), they get protections through the rules that the scramblers do not. That's key in wrapping your head around this - the same rules literally do not apply to a pocket-passer and a scrambler running around near the sidelines.
The idea behind it is a pocket passer is relatively helpless while a runner at least has vision and time to know who is around him and more able to protect himself when the inevitable hit does come.
Cam Should Apologize to Hochuli
This is where I might get some ire, but I think Cam needs to own up to what he did, explain himself, ask forgiveness, and we can all get on with things. It's hard to admit it when you've done something wrong, but he's dragging Ed Hochuli's name through the mud unnecessarily.
Also, I wonder how Hochuli will feel if Cam does nothing more and Ed's calling his next Panthers game. I don't think Ed will be too charitable towards Cam. If Cam will simply explain the real reasons/frustrations behind what he said, make it clear he's NOT angry with Hoculi, specifically, and say something like "I misunderstood the interpretation of the rule and I wanted to apologize to the team, the fans, and especially to Mr. Hochuli over all this," he'd be forgiven and a week or two later, nobody will be talking about it.
One thing I think IS certain: The longer this drags on and the longer Cam stands his ground, the worse things will be on Cam. The evidence seems to stand with Hochuli's account of things.
In fact, if I were a replay official for this rumble, I'd go out on the field and say Hochuli's call is CONFIRMED.
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