CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) — Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton apologized Thursday for an apparent off-handed comment he made to a female sports reporter during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
“After careful thought, I understand that my word choice was completely degrading and disrespectful to women. And to be honest, that was not my intention,” Newton said in a Twitter post.
“If you are a person that took offense to what I said, I sincerely apologize to you. 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 own, I take ownership to everything that comes with that – and what I said was completely unacceptable.”
Newton continued, “I’m a father to two beautiful daughters. At their age, I try to instill in them that they can do and be anything that they want to be.”
“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. To the reporters, to the journalists, to the moms – the super moms – to the daughters, the sisters and the women all around the world, I sincerely apologize and I hope that you can find the kindness in your heart to forgive me. Thank you.”
Earlier in the day, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said at a press conference that he believes Newton made a mistake.
“I think Cam made a mistake,” Rivera said. “I understand he had a conversation where he said he shouldn’t have said what he said.”
Rivera’s comment came just hours after Greek yogurt company Dannon Oikos cut ties with Newton.
The brand released a statement saying they no longer plan on working with Newton:
“We are shocked and disheartened at the behavior and comments of Cam Newton towards Jourdan Rodrigue, which we perceive as sexist and disparaging to all women. It is entirely inconsistent with our commitment to fostering equality and inclusion in every workplace. It’s simply not ok to belittle anyone based on gender. We have shared our concerns with Cam and will no longer work with him.”
Newton briefly touched on this during his video apology.
“The fact that during this whole process I’ve already lost sponsors and countless fans, I realize that the joke was really on me, and I’ve learned a valuable lesson from this.”
The controversy began Wednesday when Panthers’ beat reporter Jourdan Rodrigue asked Newton a question about halfway through the news conference about routes that wide receiver Devin Funchess has been running.
“Cam, I know you take a lot of pride in seeing your receivers play well. Devin Funchess has seemed to really embrace the physicality of his routes and getting those extra yards,” Rodrigue said. “Does that give you a little bit of enjoyment to see him [inaudible] people out there?”
“It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes, like it’s funny,” Newton said with a big smile before answering her question.
“I don’t think it’s ‘funny’ to be a female and talk about routes. I think it’s my job,” Rodrigue tweeted after the press conference.
“I spoke with him after and it was worse,” Rodrigue said in a follow up tweet. “I chose not to share, because I have an actual job to do today and one he will not keep me from.”
Wednesday night, Rodrigue released a statement about the incident.
“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,” Rodrigue said. “I sought Mr. Newton out as he left the locker room a few minutes later. He did not apologize for his comments.”
Former Observer sports writer Jonathan Jones called Newton’s comments an “embarrassing statement.”
“To say that in response to a legitimate question [from Jourdan] is so backwards and disrespectful to her and to women,” Jones continued.
Writer Joe Person tweeted his thoughts on the comment saying “Jourdan does her job well. Like, extremely well. Cam’s comment was uncalled for.”
Katherine Terrell, a Bengal’s reporter for ESPN’s NFL Nation says she was frustrated by Newton’s comments to Rodrigue.
“What frustrates me about Cam Newton’s comments: He’s not joking around with friends,” she tweeted. “He’s being condescending to a reporter doing her job.”
The Association for Women in Sports Media released a statement Wednesday evening.
“AWSM is very discouraged by Cam Newton’s disrespectful remarks and actions directed to a female reporter during today’s Carolina Panthers press conference,” AWSM officials tweeted. “As a watchdog group, AWSM demands fair treatment and positive workplace environments for women working in sports media.”
A Panthers spokesman says quarterback Cam Newton has “expressed regret” for his response. Carolina spokesman Steven Drummond said in a statement to The Associated Press that Newton had a conversation with Rodrigue after the news conference ended and expressed regret for his remarks.
Drummond said the Panthers “strive as a department to make the environment for media comfortable for everyone covering the team.”
Mike Persinger, the executive sports editor of the Charlotte Observer, said Newton’s comments were “unfortunate and out of line.”