CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is facing a national backlash after he laughed at a female reporter during a media briefing Wednesday, saying “it was funny” to hear a female ask a question about football.
As of 12 p.m. on Thursday, Newton has not issued a public response or an apology to the criticism. While some fans are shrugging it off as a slip, others are outraged, calling Newton a sexist.
“He seemed to really embrace the physicality of his routes…”
A legitimate question, asked by Charlotte Observer sports reporter Jourdan Rodrigue drew a smile from Cam Newton.
“It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes,” Newton quipped. “It’s funny.”
On Thursday, Oikos Greek Yogurt released a statement ending their sponsorship of Newton based on his comments.
We are shocked and disheartened at the behavior and comments of Cam Newton towards 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.
Newton's words threw social media into a frenzy, making the Panthers’ signal caller a trending topic on Twitter. Rodrigue, who’s been covering the team for a year, tweeted, “I don’t think it’s ‘funny’ to be a female and talk about routes. I think it’s my job.”
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
Other sports legends are coming to her defense, calling Newton’s words “sexist,” “condescending,” and “disrespectful.”
Joining the choir of backlash was revered award-winning sports columnist Christine Brennan of USA TODAY, who was the first female sports reporter to cover the NFL.
“What is Cam Newton thinking? What world is he in?” Brennan asked. “That’s what’s really alarming to me, that a young man like Cam Newton, would say such a sexist, degrading thing and think it’s humorous.”
Even the NFL was quick to release a statement Wednesday, saying:
“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.”
“During Cam Newton’s lifetime, a woman has run for president, women senators left and right, women in charge of Fortune 500 companies, he knows better,” Brennan declared. “How dare you? How dare you do that?”
A Panthers spokesperson told the Observer that Newton expressed regret for using those words, saying “We strive as a department to make the environment for media comfortable for everyone covering the team."