Has the NFL Fined Cam Newton $253,552 for Giving Away Footballs?

Rumor holds that Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is penalized thousands of dollars by the NFL every time he hands a football to a fan in the stands.

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Claim

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been fined a total of $253, 552 for giving away footballs to fans.

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Origin

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has a reputation for giving away footballs to young fans in the stands every time he scores a touchdown, a tradition in which he has been engaging since at least as far back October 2011. According to a recent meme, the NFL fines Newton more than $5,000 every time he gives away one of their balls:

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The meme shown here became popular shortly after Newton had a humorous interaction with a referee on 6 December 2015. After scoring a touchdown, Newton tried to give the football to a fan, but a referee interfered with the attempt:

The referee may have been slightly annoyed with Newton for giving away a football, but the the stunt did not result in a fine of $5,512 (or any other amount) from the NFL.

However, while Newton is not fined $5,512 every time he gives away a football (and he certainly hasn’t been fined more than $250,000 for the practice), there is some potential truth to the rumor. The NFL does have a rule that prohibits players from throwing or kicking footballs into the stands:

The NFL doesn’t fine Newton for giving footballs away, according to a league spokesman. But all NFL players are fined $5,250 when they throw or punt a ball into the stands because of issues of crowd safety.

The NFL could fine Cam Newton if he threw or kicked the ball into the stands, but the Panthers quarterback has never received this type of fine since he typically gently hands balls to spectators in the stands.