Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is now facing the consequences of making a sexist remark at a recent news conference. When Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue asked Newton about wide receiver routes, he laughed and responded that it was funny to hear a female talk about routes. She later wrote on Twitter that she sought him out for further comment but Newton did not apologize. Many are now criticizing Newton’s behavior, calling it discriminatory against women. His comment has reportedly resulted in the termination of an endorsement deal between Newton and Dannon Oikos Yogurt.
Rodrigue stated that she was just doing her job by asking him a question about one of his receivers and that his comment belittled her as well as other women who work similar jobs. She asked him whether he thought that females could understand routes and Newton responded that he should have said it was funny to hear reporters (not women) talk about routes. He followed up by saying that if she knew about routes, then she was more informed than most reporters.
The National Football League (NFL) said in a statement that the comments were wrong and disrespectful and do not reflect League views. NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart is still considering if the League or the Panthers will discipline Newton for the incident, stating that he does not want to anticipate the league stepping in but rather thinks that there will be conversations at the club level.
Initially, Dannon Oikos Yogurt reportedly rescinded an endorsement deal with Newton, issuing a statement that they would no longer work with him because it is inconsistent with their commitment to fostering equality and inclusion in the workplace. However, Newton’s marketing agent denies the termination, stating that the brand has no grounds to do so. A spokesperson for Dannon later stated that the company will be keeping Newton under contract but that existing advertising featuring Newton would be pulled.
Another sponsor, Gatorade, also issued a statement that expressed the company’s disagreement with Newton’s comment. Newton has additionally been condemned by many groups for the purportedly sexist comment, including the Association for Women in Sports Media, the Pro Football Writers of America and the Associated Press Sports Editors.
Newton has since issued a formal apology, stating that he meant the comment as a compliment but understands how his word choice was degrading and disrespectful to women. He arrived at a recent game wearing a “Rosie the Riveter” pin in his hat to show his support for all women and stated that he wants his two daughters to know that they can be anything they want to be.
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