Some hits, like this one on Cam Newton, might lead to automatic ejections if there's a NFL targeting rule. DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 08: Quarterback Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers is hit by defensive end Derek Wolfe #95 and defensive end Jared Crick #93 of the Denver Broncos in the first quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 8, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was at the center of plenty of critical plays involving blows to the head, questionable officiating and more during the 2016 season. Watching from afar, the concerns for Newton’s health hit home for another former Auburn Heisman Trophy winner, Bo Jackson.

Jackson created a stir last fall when he said in late September he would probably only have played baseball if he went back in time with the knowledge he has today about CTE and football. Jackson was a two-sport beast at the time he played, but like many former athletes today, Jackson looks back and knows football led to some serious long-term side effects for many former players that only started to be hindered by CTE years down the line.

Knowing what he knows now, Jackson winces every time he sees Newton take a brutal hit.

“The person I love in the NFL like my own son is Cam Newton (also a Heisman winner from Auburn). I cuss him out like my own son. But every time he takes a hit to his head, that scares me, it scares the hell out of me.

“I witnessed him getting hit hard twice, and both times go to the locker room. I know he can take care of himself, but it still scares me. I care about all of those players playing, I don’t want to see anybody getting hurt.”

Jackson has been criticized by some for his previous comments about CTE and football concerns with some suggesting he had no business weighing in the way he did either out of ignorance or as a hypocrite. To that, Jackson says he knows more than you can imagine.

“I’m also getting people saying I know nothing about concussions and head injuries. Let me tell you this, I speak on concussions because I’ve had a couple. I speak on CTE because I have a tendency to forget little things like where I put my keys five minutes ago. Or I forget what items I came to the grocery store for. I had my bell rung a couple of times while I was with the Raiders. One time I got up off the field, came to the other sideline, and actually sat on the wrong bench.”

I’ll spare you a Wrong Way Bo joke.

“So people shouldn’t make comments about somebody unless you have walked in their shoes, or you have competed on the same level that they have. Period. All of the comments are probably coming from selfish people only looking to make a profit off the sport.”

I’m willing to guess Jackson is on to something with that last statement.

Regardless, Newton’s treatment this past season has been worth analyzing in the offseason as the league will be forced to address how it enforces rules regarding blows to the head while trying to shape a new image for itself with respect to long-term health of players and CTE.

[USA Today]

About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Previously contributed to Host of the Locked On Nittany Lions Podcast. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.