Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is being blitzed by the media and was dropped by a sponsor after a sexist response to a female sportswriter’s question at a news conference on Wednesday.
Jourdan Rodrigue, a Panthers beat reporter for The Charlotte Observer, asked Newton about the physicality of receiver Devin Funchess’ routes. Newton smiled, chuckled and replied: "It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes. It’s funny.”
Rodrigue found no humor in the comment.
“This afternoon, I did my job as an NFL beat writer and asked Cam Newton a question about one of his receivers,” Rodrigue responded in a statement. “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.”
The Panthers said through a spokesman that Newton and Rodrigue talked after the press conference and he “expressed regret” for his remarks.
Unlike 20 or 30 years ago, when sexism toward female sportswriters was often ignored or downplayed, Newton’s comments drew immediate condemnation from The NFL, Associated Press Sports Editors, Association for Women in Sports Media, and many media members – male and female. On Thursday, Dannon yogurt said it was dropping Newton as a spokesman.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Newton's comments were “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.”
A statement from AWSM, which represents women in all fields of sports journalism, said: “AWSM is very discouraged by Cam Newton’s disrespectful remarks and actions directed to a female reporter during (Wednesday’s) Carolina Panthers press conference. As a watchdog group, AWSM demands fair treatment and positive workplace environments for women working in sports media.”
“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 position working environment,” said the APSE.
And this, from Dannon:
“We are shocked and disheartened at the behavior and comments of Cam Newton towards (Charlotte Observer reporter) Jourdan Rodrigue, which we perceive as sexist and disparaging to all women. It is entirely inconsistent with our commitment to fostering equality and inclusion in every workplace. 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.”