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NFL Quarterback Cam Newton Laughs At a Female Sports Reporter as She Does Her Job

Same shit, different day

cam newton playing football

(Photo: Getty Images)

In a news conference on Wednesday, Jourdan Rodrigue—a beat reporter from The Charlotte Observer (who also happens to be a woman)—asked Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton this question: “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. Does that give you a little bit of an enjoyment to see him kind of truck people?” Newton replied, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes.” And just like that, we’re reminded, once again, that for way too much of the population, what comes out of our mouths is completely undermined by what’s under our clothes.

The video of Newton’s remark quickly went viral, sparking a heated debate on Twitter about the meaning and intention of his comment. Most rushed to Rodrigue’s defence, saying Newton’s words were offensive and sexist.

However, others argued that the backlash against Cam was unwarranted. And one person on Twitter even said that when a famous woman makes a similarly sexist comment about a man, she’s praised.

Some viewers were curious as to why Rodrigue and other reporters in the room failed to alert Newton to the sexist tone of his comment immediately after he said it. One Twitter user expressed fear that Rodrigue was taking his comment out of context, portraying Newton in an unfair light.

Rodrigue replied that she did attempt to speak with Newton after the fact. It didn’t go well.

The Observer reported that Rodrigue tried to approach Newton after the conference, and though the conversation was not recorded, it allegedly went something like this:

“[Rodrigue] asked the quarterback if he really didn’t think a female could understand routes. Newton said she wasn’t really seeing specific routes when watching the game, she was just seeing if somebody was open. She argued that he didn’t know what she saw nor how hard she had studied football, and that maybe the two of them needed to have a deeper conversation. Newton said that maybe he should have said it was funny to hear “reporters” talk about routes and that, if she actually did know about them, then she knew more than most reporters. Then he gestured toward the locker room, still filled with her colleagues.”

Later Wednesday, Rodrigue shared her frustration on social media.

She also issued an official statement.

We’re obvi not sports reporters here at FLARE, so we have no idea if Rodrigue’s question about routes is a super technical one. That’s why we asked Sportsnet reporter Craig Battle if routes—the paths a receiver takes to get the football, as drawn up in the playbook—are usually analyzed by football commentators. “Focusing on routes is probably a little more specific than a lot of reporters get, but you wouldn’t think he’s never been asked about them,” said Battle. “Routes are discussed and broken down in slow-motion replay during live broadcasts all the time. They can be complex, sure, but they’re not crazy ‘inside football’ stuff that only people who’ve played the game professionally fully understand.”

The NFL condemned Newton’s comment in a statement, saying “The 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.” But it can be hard to take the league seriously when it denounces sexism, considering the NFL has repeatedly failed to punish players involved in incidents of domestic violence.

The irony wasn’t lost on the Twitter-sphere, either.

Last night, Panthers spokesman Steven Juston released a statement about the debacle.

The Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) association then released a counter-statement that says, “The PFWA fights not only for access and transparency when it comes to NFL matters, but also for respect in the treatment of its members by league employees. Newton, the public face of the Panthers and one of the league’s more popular players, crossed the line.”

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