After causing an uproar for a sexist comment directed at a reporter, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton issued an apology for his statement.
On Wednesday, Newton responded to a question posed by The Charlotte Observer sports reporter Jourdan Rodrigue with “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes.” The comment drew immediate public backlash and lost him at least one sponsor.
Rodrigue later posted on Twitter, “I don’t think it’s ‘funny’ to be a female and talk about routes. I think it’s my job.”
On Thursday, Newton posted a video to Twitter apologizing for his comment, according to NFL. “I understand my word choice was extremely degrading and disrespectful to women,” he said, adding that it wasn’t his intention to insult women.
Newton said he owned up to the irresponsibility of his comment given his wide platform, adding, “I’m a father to two beautiful daughters, and at their age, I try to instill in them that they can do and be anything that they want to be.”
The quarterback admitted that “the joke was really on me” after countless fans criticized him for the comment and yogurt company Dannon announced it was ending its sponsorship with him..
In a statement announcing the company’s decision to drop Newton, Michael Neuwirth, Dannon’s senior director of external communication, said the company was “shocked and disheartened” by the football player’s language, describing it as inconsistent with the company’s commitment to fostering inclusive environments. “It’s simply not okay to belittle anyone based on gender,” Neuwirth said, according to the Washington Post.
Newton also earned the ire of another sponsor, SCR888, although they did not let him go, as well as others in the world of journalism and football. Gatorade said the comments were “objectionable and disrespectful to all women,” according to the Washington Post. The footballer has been known to use Gatorade during training as well as take creatine supplements to help boost his performance.
“To the young people who see this, I hope that you learn something from this as well. Don’t be like me. Be better than me,” Newton said at the end of his video. “To the reporters, to the journalists, to the moms, super moms, to the daughters, the sisters and the women all around the world, I sincerely apologize and hope that you can find the kindness in your heart to forgive me.”
In response to Newton’s comment, the Twitter account @ThemightyERock posted a video of a young Philadelphia Eagles fan showing Newton that she, too, could discuss routes. After going through a number of classic football routes, the young girl held up her charts and said, “Cam, if you forget any of these, the Eagles are going to show you on Thursday night football.”
In a turn of events, Charlotte Observer reporter Rodrigue was forced to issue her own apology Thursday through the paper after internet sleuths uncovered tweets she had written and retweeted in 2012 and 2013 while she was in college that appeared to condone racism. One post she retweeted used the n-word, while two posts she made alluded to her father making racist jokes as they drove through “Navajo land.”
“He’s the best. Racist jokes the whole drive home,” she tweeted in August of 2012.
In her apology, Rodrigue said “There is no excuse for these tweets and the sentiment behind them. I am deeply sorry and apologize.”