Cam Newton stood with outstretched arms on the Carolina Panthers podium, eyes gazing upon the reporter of the hour. As routine, Jourdan Rodrigue – Panthers beat writer for the Charlotte Observer – asks the Panthers quarterback a very intelligent question. Noting Funchess’ great performance against the Patriots with detail, she inquires Cam for his thoughts on the young wide receiver.
Readjusting himself, Cam lets out a playful smile. He seems genuinely amused at her question as he straightens up for a moment.
It’s hard to guess exactly what went through his mind at the time. Just the past weekend, he was the subject of the NFL’s disdain, with hot-takes and columns attacking his ability as an NFL quarterback. After beating the Patriots a Sunday ago and embarrassing every pundit’s prediction, he let the media know they weren’t getting any interviews out of him.
So perhaps hearing Jourdan ask an intelligent question impressed Newton in a way. After all, Cam’s been dealing with plenty of bad reporters over the course whole career. To him, her question may have been a breath of fresh air.
However, what happened next was anything but impressive. Opening up his mouth in reply, Cam utters some of his most controversial words to date.
“It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes like that.”
These simple words would jump start an ugly debate at the national level with little to no good coming out of it.
An Ugly Start
Before his press conference even began, Cam Newton was dealing with another issue of his own.
On early Wednesday, the Panthers Quarterback found himself victim to a stalking incident. A woman came to practice, hollering and ordering the Panthers to let her meet up with Cam Newton. Of course, the team lets her know that is not possible.
Even so, that doesn’t stop her. At first glance, this may seem innocent enough. After all, she could very well just be some harmless superfan hoping to get her once-in-a-lifetime chance. What could possibly go wrong?
However, the police report paints a whole different story.
Apparently, this stalker has been at it for a while. The report states that the Panthers have repeatedly told her to stay away from facilities and not contact Cam Newton – to which she refused. While there’s not much detail on the incident, it’s safe to assume something happened to make the Panthers contact the police.
No doubt Cam was not in his best mood to begin with.
Sadly, it doesn’t get any better from here.
The room remained silent after Cam uttered those words. No one found his comment funny.
Awkwardly, Cam Newton continued on, answering Jourdan’s original question. As the rest of the conference played out, Cam’s comment was a blood-sucking tick in Jourdan’s head. She couldn’t believe her ears.
Jourdan knew she had to confront Cam over this.
After the presser, Jourdan rushed over to Cam, pressing him just a bit more to get a better understanding of his stance. As told by Fowler of the Charlotte Observer, it was not pretty.
Apparently, Newton had no idea who Jourdan even was, despite her covering the Panthers for nearly a year. Considering he hates the media, this fact isn’t too surprising.
However, the trigger point was Cam assuming she lacked football knowledge. Judging her based on the fact she’s another one of those “reporters” he despises so much, Cam insults all her hard work. While he does express regret over using “female” instead of “reporter,” his words did not help with mending the situation at all.
Crestfallen, Jourdan took to twitter to express her disdain.
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
This tweet would propel their issue to the national level. One word was the difference between this being a local issue, and this being a national controversy. One word Cam wishes he could take back.
An Avalance Of Ugly
Following Jourdan’s tweet, social media took to storm. With tens of thousands retweeting and seeing her message, the incident spread like wildfire.
Over the course of a few hours, Cam Newton started trending on twitter. People began to debate over the issue, with some believing the situation was overblown, and others criticizing his words. The anti-Cam crowd was in full swing, eating up another delicious scoop on the “ugly” side of Cam.
Meanwhile, Jourdan Rodrigue found her name propelled onto the national level. With many expressing their support and love, people everywhere showered her with positive tweets and their own take on the situation. However, there were plenty who also sought to attack her and find as much dirt as they possibly can.
Soon, the anti-Jourdan faction hit gold in her twitter history. Exposing her old “racist” remarks, this group began spreading these old tweet from 4-5 years ago in an effort to defame her. Their logic was to counter sexism with racism, which only added to the mess.
The next day, major media outlets such as Good Morning America began relaying the story over the air. Countless others ate it up, denouncing Cam, Jourdan, and the overall situation. The Panthers fanbase split into factions – those for Cam, and those against.
The controversy stirred to the point Cam’s sponsors began dropping him. Oikos issued a statement that Cam would no longer represent their yogurt brand. After reviewing the issue, they felt it was in their best interests to avoid Cam.
All day, both Cam and Jourdan were victims of harsh attacks on social media and the mainstream media. Rodrigue used to interact with fans often from her account, but with the increase in attention and negativity, it’s hardly feasible for that to continue. For Cam, it was the equivalent of handing all his haters a nuke to attack hm with.
Those 24 hours were most certainly an avalanche of ugly.
Asking For Forgiveness
It’s hard to imagine how much strength it takes to even open social media after such an incident. However, Jourdan was not fazed, facing her situation head on.
As she read her old tweets a bunch of low-lifes on twitter brought to light, she knew it was important to make a statement. Those tweets were wrong no matter the age.
So, a few hours later, she constructed a simple note of apology and regret.
— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) October 5, 2017
In all fairness, she never had to do this. These were tweets from her college days, in which most people would say they’ve joked about the same. Most people grow up after college and learn from past mistakes.
Even so, she apologized anyways.
In Cam Newton’s case, he waited a while before posting his apology.
Reflecting on what happened, Cam knew he made a mistake. As a public figure head, he shouldn’t be making causal sexist comments in a professional setting – or even at all. Thinking back to what he tells his daughters, he undertands what he’s done is wrong.
Cam took to social media to post one of the most sincere apologies in sports.
— Cameron Newton (@CameronNewton) October 6, 2017
Cam expresses his deep sorrow for the events that unfolded. He remarks on his family and how he regrets his words had a negative impact as a role moel and as a father. Finally, Cam tells everyone to not be like him, but rather consider being better than him.
He finishes up asking everyone for forgiveness over his foolishness.
Both Cam and Jourdan messed up. Both ask for everyone’s forgiveness, as they both apologize for their mistakes.
A Lesson To Remember
These past few days were no fun for Cam nor Jourdan.
Cam Newton’s choice of words deserve to be criticized. Whether intentional or not, he put down women into a category that simply does not exist. Sexism has no place in society, and any woman can learn routes just as well as a man could.
Jourdan Rodrigue should never have posted racist comments in the past. Sure, it was in the past, but that does not make those comments any less racist. As sexism has no place, neither does racism.
Yes. Both deserve to be condemned for these actions. However, neither deserve to be defined as a sexist nor racist over a few mistakes.
As a society, it’s clear we can look at this as a turning point with sexism in sports. Jourdan Rodrigue is arguably a living example of a woman who knows the intricacies of football better than most other men. Saying otherwise is simply insulting her hard work.
However, it’s also clear that we need to understand a few words do not define a person. Hate attacks on the outstanding characters of both Jourdan and Cam are absolutely unnecessary and do not define who they really are. Trying to twist a few blips as a full reveal on who a person is shows completely lack of sense and understanding.
For Jourdan and Cam, they may never mend the catastrophe this drama brought to the both of them. Press conferences may never be the same.
However, everyone can grow from this, and learn to be a better person.
One step at a time.Agree? Disagree? You can sound off right here with thousands of Carolina Panthers fans.