He should’ve known better than to patronize a reporter with his sexist remark during a press conference Wednesday. How dare he? How dare Cam Newton insults, belittles and puts her down for her intelligence, knowledge and for understanding the intricacies of the game? And how dare he behaves worse than that smart ass Eddie Haskell and laughs at a female journalist for asking a technical football question?
When Jourdan Rodrigue, the Carolina Panthers beat writer for the Charlotte Observer, asked the quarterback about wide receiver Devin Funchess’ route, Newton prefaced his response with a gender-based comment. It wasn’t a joke. It wasn’t nice of him to say. And it certainly wasn’t funny. At worst it was hysterical, at best it was silly. The furor over a distasteful and disparaging observation that essentially suggested Newton’s sexism and unfair skepticism about female sports reporters sparked widespread backlash.
To Newton, female sports writers have limited knowledge, or lack interest in sports, or don’t have the ability to perform the job well, even though many of them studied at a four-year university and earned the credentials to qualify. Judging his own immaturity about a subject that should never have been a discussion he probably thinks everything is funny. It was Newton, a poster child of egotism and sexism, who made a fool of himself and may have cost himself millions in endorsements. That is usually the thing to happen when a pro athlete lacks sound judgment and makes the wrong turn in the wake of an infamous act that could be damaging and could ruin someone’s image.
There is a line not to be crossed. And Newton stepped over it. For no one is this more immature than Newton, whose asinine behavior is greatly unacceptable and unjustifiable. And no matter how you slice it, it just isn’t that “funny” to hear “a female talk about routes.” Ask CBS Sports’ Lesley Visser, Buffalo News’ Amy Moritz, USA Today’s Christine Brennan or Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins. In fact, it’s brilliant, wonderful and inspiring to see more and more women covering sports for mainstream media. Any woman in a male-dominated profession is pretty incensed right now, and to be honest, it’s hard to blame them. Matter of fact, the last time I did my homework, women currently make up 45 percent of NFL’s fan base, and they drive 70-80 percent of all consumer spending.
If you didn’t think he was funny, it’s because he wasn’t. It was another way to make a woman feel uncomfortable or as if she’s denied access to the locker room. It’s offensive, uncongenial and tiring. It makes perfect sense to hear odious and taboo words come out of his mouth because Newton was probably that overgrown, boorish schoolboy who’d tease kids, pull cafeteria pranks and then laugh about it. Despite his antics, I came to the defense of the sullen and petulant quarterback for pouting during his interview session after Carolina’s agonizing loss to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl two years ago.
There is nothing funny about sexism, as Newton learned the hard way, and nobody is laughing. It’s a silly mistake that he can certainly learn from, even when it may be hard for some to forgive and forget. Making a sexist joke only points to Newton’s unconscious perception of women’s work in the sports industry. Poking fun at a female reporter, without thinking about the damage, only tells everybody that his humor is sometimes laced with ignorance and foolishness. With all that being said, Newton’s humor betokens a real sense of outrage and righteous anger from women from all walks of life.
Please let’s not pretend sexism doesn’t exist today in sports. It’s clear that his insecurities, jealousies and cockiness may have unintentionally harmed him more than it helped him. It’s funny to me, very funny, that he offered an apology without any caveats only after Dannon, the maker of Oikos yogurt, announced it was dropping him as a pitchman for its Greek yogurt. Gatorade, another sponsor, also issued a statement Thursday.
“Cam’s comments were objectionable and disrespectful to all women and they do not reflect the values of our brand. Gatorade fully supports women who compete in, report on, coach for, or play any role in sport – on or off the field.”
He knows he messed up. But he can’t undo what’s been said or done. He can humble himself by growing up to the point that he becomes a changed man, or maybe get a side gig as lecturer for kids making wrong decisions one day. It took over 24 hours for him to break his silence, to apologize sincerely in a two-minute video posted to his Twitter page Thursday night. It was certainly better late than never.
“After careful thought, I understand that my word choice was extremely degrading and disrespectful to women,” Newton said.
“If you are a person who took offense to what I said, I sincerely apologize to you,” he said.
If he was man enough to degrade a female reporter, the least he can do is pull her to the side and personally apologize to her.
“I’m a man who tries to be a positive role model in my community and tries to use my platform to inspire others, and I take ownership to everything that comes with that. And what I did was extremely unacceptable.”
Yes, what you did was extremely unacceptable.