Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton made headlines Wednesday afternoon for what seemed to be a sexist remark during a press conference.
Newton laughed and said it was “funny to hear a female talk about routes” when the Charlotte Observer’s Jourdan Rodrigue asked about Panthers receiver Devin Funchess’ success in the passing game.
The cringe-worthy clip was being shared across social media Wednesday.
October 4, 2017
Cam Newton: “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes.”
The question, posted in its entirety to Twitter by GQ writer Jay Willis, was about Funchess “embracing the physicality of his routes” through the team’s first four games, including an upset of the New England Patriots last week.
Newton eventually answered the question, but not until after an uncomfortable few moments of silence in the room.
Rodrigue wrote on Twitter that she spoke with Newton after the press conference and said “it was worse.”
I don't think it's "funny" to be a female and talk about routes. I think it's my job.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) October 4, 2017
I spoke with him after and it was worse. I chose not to share, because I have an actual job to do today and one he will not keep me from.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) October 4, 2017
Newton’s comments drew a strong rebuke from several sports news media organizations — including the Associated Press Sports Editors and the Association for Women in Sports Media — and the NFL in the hours that followed.
"The comments are just plain wrong and disrespectful to the exceptional female reporters and all journalists who cover our league,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in the statement to USA TODAY Sports. “They do not reflect the thinking of the league."
Statement from AWSM. pic.twitter.com/P1fVi3KRsz— AWSM (@AWSM_SportMedia) October 4, 2017
“The Pro Football Writers of America strongly condemn Cam Newton’s demeaning comment toward a female media member Wednesday afternoon,” the association said in its statement.
The news release also included a statement from Panthers spokesperson Steven Drummond:
“I have spoken with Jourdan and Cam 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.”
According to Reuters, women make up 45 percent of the NFL’s viewership.
The San Francisco 49ers employ a full-time female assistant coach, Katie Sowers. Collette Smith became the first female coach in New York Jets history as a coaching intern this summer.
In 2016, the Buffalo Bills hired Kathryn Smith as a full-time coach, though she no longer coaches for the team. According to CBS Sports, the first female coach in NFL history was Jen Welter, who interned with the Arizona Cardinals in 2015.