CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has “expressed regret” for his response to a female reporter’s question at a news conference Wednesday, a team spokesman said.
When Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue asked Newton about wide receiver Devin Funchess’ route running, the former league MVP smiled and said, “it’s funny to hear a female talk about routes. It’s funny.”
After Newton’s comments, the quarterback proceeded to answer Rodrigue’s question.
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.
Rodrigue released a statement through The Charlotte Observer via email saying that Newton did not apologize when they spoke after the news conference.
She said she “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.”
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Wednesday night in a statement that Newton’s comments “are just plain wrong and disrespectful to the exceptional female reporters and all journalists who cover our league. They do not reflect the thinking of the league.”
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.”
“The question Jourdan asked during the news conference was a good one, like countless other questions about football strategy and nuance she has asked in the course of doing her job,” Persinger said.
Rodrigue joined The Charlotte Observer as a Panthers beat reporter last year.
She said on on Twitter : “I don’t think it’s ‘funny’ to be a female and talk about routes. I think it’s my job.”
‘I thought we were moving past this,’ says Sportsnet 650’s Mira Laurence
Mira Laurence from our partner station Sportsnet 650 can’t believe women are still facing some of the same issues she did when she first got into reporting.
“I thought we were probably moving past this. Look on TV, look on radio. We have so many female reporters. We have so many female reporters that are sideline reporters, also in the NFL. The majority of them are knowledgeable women — women that know their stuff, that can speak about sports. And for Cam Newton to stand at a podium yesterday and basically mock a beat reporter who reports on the Carolina Panthers daily and say, ‘You want to ask me about running routes’ — well, of course she’s going to ask about running routes because she asked an intelligent question because that’s her job.”
“As a woman that’s worked in sports for a long time, I was asked by the guys on Sportsnet 650 if I’ve ever faced this in my career. Sure, I have. It takes us awhile to build a reputation and credibility. It can take just one pronunciation or mispronunciation for our credibility to be blown. We’re judged in a little bit of a different light. But this is 2017,” she tells us.
She says the prevelance of female sports reporters in this day and age shows the culture is changing a bit, but some people still take notice of gender.
“We see so many women now working in sports and anchoring sports desk. We’ve got Ann [Schmaltz], our beat reporter for the Canucks. We’re out there. And we’re doing a good job. And I think the majority of people are accepting that and I think players are accepting it and coaches are accepting it. It shouldn’t be something that’s ‘accepted’ because what makes us any different? Just because my physical makeup is different than yours means I can’t talk about sports or I can’t appreciate sports?”
She says changes need to start with coaches. “It was always, ‘Mira’s coming into the dressing room. Towel up, guys.’ That’s kind of how it was… I had to earn that respect before I was kind of allowed into that sanctuary, or that exclusive club.”
“I’m one of the only female voices on our radio station right now. People have said, ‘You bring a female perspective.’ I don’t want to bring a female perspective. I bring another perspective. I don’t want to be looked at as the ‘token female’ or the ‘female’ in the group. I’m Mira. And I don’t have the same opinion as Steve [Darling] and I don’t have the same opinion as James [Cybulski]. I bring my own set of skills and my own opinions.”