Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) tries to tackle New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
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.''
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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 officiated. … I mean, the calls – or lack thereof – were pretty egregious.''
Another speaks-his-mind, 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.
In case you missed it, here are the other notable topics after the NFL season's eighth Sunday:
0-16?: Only one team, the 2008 Detroit Lions, has gone 0-16, but now the Cleveland Browns are halfway there and looking capable of going a full season without winning after a 31-28 loss at home to possibly the easiest opponent left on the schedule, the QB-challenged New York Jets.
KISSING YOUR SISTER: Maybe the NFL needs to reconsider its overtime rules yet again, because no one likes a tie, and for the first time since 1997, there have been two in one season – in consecutive weeks, no less. ''I don't think there should be a tie. Is it a win? Is it a loss?'' Redskins defensive lineman Chris Baker said. ''I don't know what it is.''
BRADY'S BACK: So maybe a little longer offseason for Tom Brady helped him and the Patriots. Since returning from his four-game ''Deflategate'' suspension, Brady has thrown for 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions and led his team to a 4-0 record. His latest masterpiece was a 4-TD performance while beating the Buffalo Bills 41-25.
RAIDERS VS. BRONCOS : Let's look ahead to next Sunday night, when there will be quite a top-of-the-AFC matchup between the Super Bowl champion Broncos and the up-and-coming Oakland Raiders, a pair of 6-2 teams who are chasing the New England Patriots (7-1) for conference supremacy. And while the Raiders set an NFL record by being called for 23 penalties for 200 yards in their 30-24 overtime victory at Tampa Bay this week, the most noteworthy numbers were those put up by Oakland QB Derek Carr: 513 yards, four TDs, zero INTs. Should be fun watching Carr, Amari Cooper and Co. work against Denver's dominant defense.
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