Cam Newton under fire for sexist remarks to reporter
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Like most sportswriters, Jourdan Rodrigue began pursuing her dream job as a youth. It was a trick play in a college bowl game about a decade ago that piqued Rodrigue’s interest. From then on, Rodrigue set out on a career path — degree at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State, cover Penn State football — to reach a life goal, becoming a Panthers beat writer for The Charlotte Observer.
Around the same time Rodrigue began pursuing her sportswriting career, an Atlanta high school quarterback was drawing the attention of big-time college recruiters. Cam Newton initially attended Florida, but then ended up at Auburn where he won the Heisman Trophy. Newton worked hard at his craft and became the first overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. In his fifth season, league MVP Newton led the Panthers to the Super Bowl.
Newton and Rodrigue are both very good at what they do, near the top of their respective professions, and spent countless hours training to make it there.
During a news conference on Wednesday, Rodrigue asked Newton a question about one of his wide receivers: “Cam, 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?”
OK, maybe a little long-winded, but a really insightful and researched question that would make most quarterbacks think deeply about their response, right?
Here’s how he responded: “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes, like … it’s funny.”
Nobody in the media room found it to be funny.
Newton did go on to answer the question, but the damage had been done.
After the news conference, Rodrigue tracked down Newton to talk about the firestorm that was already brewing, according to a story in The Charlotte Observer. Rodrigue said she talked with Newton, but he never apologized.
Rodrigue tweeted this after the incident:
Panthers spokesperson Steven Drummond released this statement later Wednesday: “I have spoken with Jourdan and Cam and I know they had a conversation where he expressed regret for using those words. We strive as a department to make the environment for media comfortable for everyone covering the team.”
Not surprisingly, social media lit into Newton.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Newton’s 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.”
Newton is already feeling the fallout. Dannon, the maker of Oikos yogurt, announced on Thursday it had dropped Newton as a spokesperson.
Dannon said it was “shocked and disheartened” by Newton’s comments. The company statement read: “It’s simply not ok to belittle anyone based on gender. We have shared our concerns with Cam and will no longer work with him.”