Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton laughed and made light of a female reporter who asked about one of his teammates, saying it was “funny to hear a female” ask the question.
Charlotte Observer beat reporter Jourdan Rodrigue asked Newton during Wednesday’s news conference about wide receiver Devin Funchess embracing the physicality of routes and if Newton got enjoyment out of that.
Newton responded, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes like — it’s funny.”
Panthers director of communications Steven Drummond said in a statement that he spoke with Newton and Rodrigue “and I know they had a conversation where he expressed regret for using those words. We strive as a department to make the environment for media comfortable for everyone covering the team.”
Rodrigue said in a statement that Newton did not apologize.
“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.”
In a statement, the NFL said “the comments are just plain wrong and disrespectful to the exceptional female reporters and all journalists. They do not reflect the thinking of the league.”
The Association for Women in Sports Media said in a statement that it “is very discouraged by Cam Newton’s disrespectful remarks and actions directed to a female reporter during today’s Carolina Panthers media conference. As a watchdog group, AWSM demands fair treatment and positive workplace environments for women working in sports media.”
The Pro Football Writers of America also condemned Newton’s comments, saying in a statement that he “crossed the line.”
Newton made headlines earlier in his career for his interaction with the media after the Panthers’ loss to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50, when he cut short his session with reporters.