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NFL, union launch joint review of Panthers' handling of Cam Newton injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The NFL and NFL Players Association are conducting a joint review into how the Carolina Panthers handled the concussion protocol as it related to a fourth-quarter hit on quarterback Cam Newton in Sunday's NFC playoff loss at New Orleans.

According to the policy, if the protocol was not properly followed, the team is subject to discipline.

The Seattle Seahawks were fined $100,000, and the team's coaching and medical staffs were required to attend medical training regarding the concussion protocol, after a joint review determined the club did not properly evaluate quarterback Russell Wilson following a hard tackle during a Nov. 9 game against Arizona.

The review took more than a month to conclude.

What's at issue with Newton's hit is that he was not taken to the locker room for evaluation as the NFL required when the protocol was revised this season.

According to the revised rule, a player is required to go to the locker room for evaluation if he is found to demonstrate "gross or sustained vertical instability (e.g., stumbling or falling to the ground when trying to stand).''

Newton took a hard hit in the fourth quarter in which he claimed his helmet came down over his eyes and hurt his right eye. As he walked to the sideline, Newton went down to the ground, where he pointed to his eye as trainers checked him out.

He was taken to the sideline medical tent for evaluation for a concussion and cleared after missing only one play.

Coach Ron Rivera and general manager Mary Hurney said the Panthers followed the proper procedure, saying Newton had an eye injury and was not concussed.

Newton also said after the 31-26 loss he was dealing with an eye injury and not a concussion.

"He took a knee because they told him to take a knee so we could get the official timeout and Derek [Anderson] could warm up,'' Hurney said when explaining why Newton went to the ground while coming off the field. "We did everything the right way.''

This isn't the first time the Panthers have been investigated for how it has handled the protocol. The league and players' union conducted probes last year after Newton took a hard hit to the head late in the season opener at Denver but did not come out of the game.

It was determined that proper safety guidelines were followed in that case.