UPDATE: Cam Newton apologizes, but not before losing a sponsor after laughing at female reporter
By Steven Kutz, MarketWatch , Rachel Koning Beals
Dannon says Newton's comments to Jourdan Rodrigue were 'sexist and disparaging to all women'
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has apologized for laughing at a female reporter's question, a gesture that came more than a day after the incident and about nine hours after Dannon Oikos Yogurt dumped him as a spokesperson.
Newton, speaking about his own daughters, made his statement via video on social media for what he called an "extremely degrading and disrespectful" choice of words.
"After careful thought, I understand that my word choice was extremely degrading and disrespectful to women," he said. "And to be honest, that was not my intention. If you are a person who took offense to what I said, I sincerely apologize to you."
Julie DiCaro, an anchor on Chicago sports radio 670 The Score, said she felt the apology was sincere.
Newton on Wednesday laughed at Charlotte Observer beat reporter Jourdan Rodrigue who asked about one of his teammates, saying it was "funny to hear a female" ask this particular question. It was about wide receiver Devin Funchess embracing the physicality of routes and how Newton felt about it, ESPN and other news outlets reported.
The exchange extended to a post-press conference one-on-one and, of course, played out in social media.
Rodrigue, with the backing of her paper's coverage and commentary on the exchange (http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/scott-fowler/article177107336.html), said it's all in a day's work, but she was disappointed.
"Newton said she wasn't really seeing specific routes when watching the game, she was just seeing if somebody was open," the Observer reported. "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."
Read:Sports reporters tell Moneyish why Cam Newton's sexist remark wasn't 'funny' at all (Sports%20reporters%20tell%20Moneyish%20why%20Cam%20Newton%e2%80%99s%20sexist%20remark%20wasn%e2%80%99t%20%e2%80%98funny%e2%80%99%20at%20all)
For his part, Newton later 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," according to the Observer. "Then he gestured toward the locker room, still filled with her colleagues."
Read:Dream job: Bart Scott on what it's like to play in the NFL (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bart-scott-on-what-its-like-to-play-in-the-nfl-and-money-lessons-hes-learned-2017-09-28)
Rodrigue said in an earlier statement that Newton did not actually apologize, at least initially.
"[Wednesday] 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."
Newton loses a sponsor
Also upset? One of Newton's sponsors -- Dannon's (DANOY) Oikos yogurt, which on Thursday cut ties with the athlete. In a statement, Michael Neuwirth, senior director of external communications for Dannon, said: '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...We have shared our concerns with Cam and will no longer work with him."
Newton, 28, made $26 million last year, according to Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/profile/cam-newton/) -- and half was from endorsements. He's sponsored by, among others, Gatorade and Under Armour (UAA) .
The NFL's reaction
The NFL even got involved: "The comments are just plain wrong and disrespectful to the exceptional female reporters and all journalists."
It was another league action that, like the #takeaknee flag protests, appears to split its fan base as viewership has been in decline.
It's understandable that the league would be upset, as it covets its female fans. The league produces NFL jerseys and products for women, and even advertises in women's magazines. And these initiatives have increased the league's fan base. From 2009 to 2013, female viewership rose 26%, according to Sports Illustrated (https://www.si.com/nfl/2016/08/26/nfl-female-fan-roundtable-domestic-violence-concussions).
The irony of it all
What was ironic about Newton's laugh is that it made it seem like male reporters are allowed to ask serious football questions, but as former All-Pro New York Giants player Michael Strahan pointed out on Thursday morning, most male reporters covering the NFL never played football either.
Strahan, now a host on Good Morning America, said: "The way Cam said it -- "how would you know, you've never played the game?" -- well, 90% of the reporters have never played the game."
ESPN's Sarah Spain made a similar point: "Do you think all the male reporters in that room have 'run routes?' Can we only ask about things we've physically done?" she wrote (https://twitter.com/SarahSpain/status/915825502258053120) on Twitter.
-Rachel Koning Beals; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
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10-06-17 0711ETCopyright (c) 2017 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.