Cam Newton takes sexist dig at female reporter
Cam Newton was the only one laughing after a female sports reporter asked a routine question during a Wednesday press conference.
Fielding a question about wide receiver Devin Funchess’ routes from the Charlotte Observer’s Jourdan Rodrigue, the Panthers quarterback prefaced his response with a distasteful observation targeting her gender.
“It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes,” Newton said, drawing out the word “routes” and pausing before giving his answer.
Rodrigue, a Carolina beat reporter, fired back at Newton soon after on Twitter, offended by the 2015 NFL MVP not taking her and her job seriously.
“I don’t think it’s ‘funny’ to be a female and talk about routes. I think it’s my job,” she wrote.
The NFL agreed with her and condemned Newton’s remark.
“The comments are just plain wrong and disrespectful to the exceptional female reporters and all journalists who cover our league,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told The Observer. “They do not reflect the thinking of the league.”
Rodrigue revealed in a separate post that she confronted Newton after the press conference and only faced more scrutiny, though she neglected to divulge any more information.
“I spoke with him after and it was worse,” she continued. “I chose not to share, because I have an actual job to do today and one he will not keep me from.”
The Panthers painted a very different picture of their encounter later Wednesday.
“I have spoken with Jourdan and Cam and I know they had a conversation where he expressed regret for using those words,” Panthers spokesperson Steven Juston said in a statement. “We strive as a department to make the environment for media comfortable for everyone covering the team.”
Rodrigue responded with a statement of her own, recounting Newton’s actions from her perspective and the emotional effect it had on her and likely other women in her position.
“This afternoon, I did my job as an NFL beat writer and asked Cam Newton a question about one of his receivers,” she said. “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.”
Rodrigue’s colleague at the Observer, columnist Scott Fowler, described her conversation with Newton in more detail in an article published Wednesday evening. When Rodrigue asked Newton if he thought women really couldn’t understand routes, Fowler wrote, Newton argued she was making out open receivers, but not specific routes.
Rodrigue, who started on the path to becoming a football reporter at 15, then told Newton he might not realize how much she knows about the game. He responded by saying it might’ve been more accurate if he’d replaced “female” with “reporter” in his original statement because most reporters don’t grasp real routes, according to Fowler’s account.
Once Newton told Rodrigue he didn’t remember her name after a year of her working on the Panthers’ beat, she reportedly gave it and walked away.
The Association for Women in Sports Media showed its support for Rodrigue on Twitter, calling Newton’s behavior “disrespectful” and demanding “fair treatment” for women in the industry.
Former Falcons All-Pro wide receiver Roddy White said in a Twitter post he didn’t understand the outcry over Newton’s disparaging comment. He laughed, too.
Newton, 28, has been struggling to find his form this season after throwing for two touchdowns and four interceptions in his first three games. The Panthers’ 33-30 win Sunday against the Patriots, giving them a 3-1 record so far this season, featured a much more precise Newton, who passed for 316 yards and three touchdowns with one pick.