Cam Newton made a sexist remark at his press conference on Wednesday afternoon, when he said, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes.”
Jourdan Rodrigue, the reporter who asked the question and received Newton’s remark, was asking about wideout Devin Funchess:
“I know you take a lot of pride in seeing your receivers play well. Devin Funchess has seemed to really embrace the physicality of his routes and getting those extra yards. Does that give you a little bit of enjoyment to see him kind of truck sticking people out there?”
As Rodrigue was asking the question, and she said the word “routes” Newton smiled, and then made his remark.
I don't think it's "funny" to be a female and talk about routes. I think it's my job.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) October 4, 2017
According to Rodrigue, it got worse afterward:
I spoke with him after and it was worse. I chose not to share, because I have an actual job to do today and one he will not keep me from.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) October 4, 2017
There’s no reason to assume that a football reporter doesn’t understand routes, or that knowing about routes is dependent upon that reporter being a man or a woman. This is just another example of the sexism in sports that women face daily.
“This afternoon, I did my job as an NFL beat writer and asked Cam Newton a question about one of his receivers. I was dismayed by his response, which not only belittled me but countless other women before me and beside me who work in similar jobs.
“I sought Mr. Newton out as he left the locker room a few minutes later. He did not apologize for his comments.”
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera addressed the issue with the Charlotte media on Thursday, but he didn’t have much to say.
“Cam made a mistake. From my understanding there was a conversation,” Rivera said. “And I would like to talk about the Detroit Lions who we play Sunday.”
The Association for Women in Sports Media released a statement in response:
“AWSM is very discouraged by Cam Newton’s disrespectful remarks and actions directed to a female reporter during today’s Carolina Panthers press conference. As a watchdog group, AWSM demands fair treatment and positive workplace environments for women working in sports media.”
The Associated Press Sports Editors called Newton’s comments “unacceptable” in a statement:
We stand with the Association for Women in Sports Media as an organization whose mission includes safeguarding fair and positive working conditions for all sports journalists. This is not representative of a fair or positive working environment.
APSE agrees wholeheartedly that Mr. Newton’s response was out of line. And we ask for a formal apology to Jourdan Rodrigue from Mr. Newton and the Carolina Panthers organization.
Newton has yet to publicly apologize, though a team spokesman released the following statement:
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy commented on the incident in a Wednesday night email message to Pro Football Talk:
“The comments are just plain wrong and disrespectful to the exceptional female reporters and all journalists who cover our league. They do not reflect the thinking of the league.”
The fallout has begun for Newton. On Thursday, Dannon terminated its endorsement agreement with Newton, according to USA Today’s A.J. Perez. A marketing representative for Newton told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that the company had not terminated the partnership and did not have grounds to do so.
Even still, Newton’s comments, and his dismissive attitude toward Rodrigue, were nothing but disrespectful to someone trying to do her job.
Newton issued an apology for his remarks on Thursday night.
UPDATE: After the Panthers’ win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Cam Newton told reporters that his comments were meant to be sarcastic and that he was trying to pay the reporter a compliment.
"It was a lesson learned for me this whole week. "My sarcasm trying to give somebody kind of a compliment turned in ways I never would have even imagined.''