Cam Newton turned an ordinary news conference into a PR firestorm and continued sports' sexism problem.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton turned a routine post-practice news conference into a PR firestorm Wednesday with his answer to a question from a Charlotte Observer reporter.
Jourdan Rodrigue, the Observer’s Panthers beat writer, asked Newton about the pride he takes in the success of his receivers and how second-year tight end Devin Funchess was progressing in his routes. Newton chuckled and said, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes. It’s funny.” He then answered the question.
Cam Newton: “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes”
Cam Newton: “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes.”
— Max Marcilla (@MMarcilla98) October 4, 2017
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Rodrigue issued a statement after the exchange:
“This afternoon, I did my job as an NFL beat writer and asked Cam Newton a question about one of his receivers. 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.”
Newton’s comments drew ire from across the sports and media landscapes. The NFL, the Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM) and the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) all issued statements condemning Newton.
While the brunt of the criticism fell on to Newton, Rodrigue was asked on Twitter why she or other media members didn’t push back immediately.
Though Rodrigue said in her statement that Newton did not apologize, a Panthers spokesperson said Newton and Rodrigue “had a conversation where he expressed regret for using those words.”
Women have fought an uphill battle in sports journalism for decades. And you have to look back only a few months for another instance of sexism in sports.
In May, Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark apparently took issue with Bleacher Report’s Natalie Weiner for writing on domestic violence nearly two years prior, tweeting at her and later deleting, “People like you don’t have long careers in your field. I have a job for you cleaning my fish tank when that lil job is ova.”
Similar to the Panthers’ vague response that emphasized striving “as a department to make the environment for the media comfortable for everyone covering the team,” Clark tweeted this in response:
Clark was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence in 2014 and later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.