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Rivera: Cam getting Shaquille treatment with big hits

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Panthers coach Ron Rivera is a player's coach, and there was no doubt he was going to use his day-after news conference Friday to bring attention to the series of violent, non-flagged hits sustained by quarterback Cam Newton in Thursday's loss to the Broncos.

Rivera ran with the prevailing theory of the moment, that Newton does not get flags like other quarterbacks do given his size, physicality and nature of Carolina's offense.

"I think there's a little bit of prejudice to that," Rivera said. "Again, it's kind of like what happened to (former NBA star) Shaquille O'Neal. Here's a big, physical basketball player and he goes to set a pick and a guy falls down and they call a foul on him. He goes to shoot a little layup and he gets hacked and hammered and they don't call it. At least that's the way I look at it."

He added: "I'd love to see him start getting some of that veteran favoritism. That'd be cool. Again, it's a very difficult thing the referees have to do. That's the first thing. They have to be able to get all the angles. If they don't have a good angle, they may not see what we see or what the folks viewing it on TV see, or the people that are covering it see. And that's in slow motion, which makes things look even worse, a little more exaggerated. Again, I really don't know. I'm not the doctor, again. This is just my opinion. I just happened to play nine years, coached 20 some odd years. Again, that's just from my perspective."

Rivera, who said Newton is not in concussion protocol and defended the process that led to Newton being able to stay on the field Thursday, believed that at some point, the league should start suspending players who levy hits even if the play wasn't flagged during the game.

"I think the thing that has to happen is once the people back of the front office in New York determine that was a vicious hit or that was an illegal hit, even though it wasn't called, that the person is fined," he said. "I think eventually there's a certain point that you may have to start suspending people. Again, if that's what we're trying to do is eliminate that, continue to make the game safe, then that's to me the only thing you can do. That's the next step."

Rivera's take is not surprising, nor is what NFL.com's Judy Battista learned from at least one Broncos player voicing his opinion in the postgame locker room. But one thing is for sure: We are not done talking about the beating Newton often takes. Coaches use their soap box as a way to raise awareness, and Rivera has a lot of people listening.

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