Were You Offended Enough By Cam Newton’s Comments To A Female Reporter To Warrant Him Losing An Endorsement?
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On a scale of 1 to 10, how bothered were you by the first 23 seconds of the following video? What you will see is Carolina Panthers star Cam Newton giggling at reporter Jourdan Rodrigue’s mention of “routes” in her question about a teammate’s performance. Routes, for the record, are patterns or paths taken by a receiver looking to get open to catch a pass:
Rodrigue’s response after the fact was this tweet:
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
Not only is Newton facing criticism now for what many have deemed a sexist remark (he’s already been criticized in the past for his thoughts on race), but backlash has been swift enough that it was announced that he’d lost an endorsement deal with yogurt company Dannon Oikos on Thursday.
“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,” said the company’s senior director of external communications, Michael Neuwirth, in a statement. “It is entirely inconsistent with our commitment to fostering equality and inclusion in every workplace. It’s simply not OK to belittle anyone based on gender. We have shared our concerns with Cam and will no longer work with him.”
The comment has also received backlash from other women in sports broadcasting and commentating. On First Take, Josina Anderson expressed her concern with such remarks.
“The reason I was dismayed was because I know, personally, obviously, what it has taken to be sitting in this chair right now,” she said. “Women, when they come into the locker room, you know they are bringing the thunder. Not just with how they’re coming in the locker room, but with the information that they have and the content that they feel is important. So to hear him use such a term that is so disappointing because it’s all-encompassing, it brings us all into it. And so because, like you mentioned, you think he’s so astute and he comes off so senatorial, you’re surprised that he wasn’t even cognizant of how that was sounding when it was coming out of his mouth.”
But I will say that of the people I’ve spoken to today and asked their opinions on this issue, all Black women by the way, only one said to me, “He’s absolutely disgusting.” The rest didn’t find it to be a big deal, and in one case, a colleague mentioned that many brands who offer endorsements are quick to dump Black public figures for mistakes, but consider it a “boys will be boys moment” when it comes to white ones.
“It’s laughable,” she said. “Now everybody got standards? Stop. Y’all don’t care about women, you just wanna be done with this Black boy.”
As for myself, I think that this was something that didn’t need to go so far. Clarification of what he meant (immediately after would have been best) and an apology for any offense would have made sense to me, but I didn’t see it as something done maliciously that would warrant ending his sponsorship. But alas, that was the decision that was made. And maybe, as my co-worker said, it’s because in the grand scheme of things that could hurt and hold back Black folks, many of us as Black women probably won’t be as offended as others (i.e., white women) by this “routes” comment. For many of us, racism, especially in these times, trumps sexism concerns. However, the less sexist folks can be out here, the better for all of us in fights for equality.
In response so far, Cam has simply posted pictures of him holding up a Black power fist during a recent game:
As for Rodrigue, you will be surprised to know that things have turned away from her favor just that quickly today. Twitter dug up some tweets she posted from a few years back that showed her making light of racist jokes her father shared with her.
She has since apologized for them:
— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) October 5, 2017
Seems Cam’s not the only one who could stand to do better…