Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton may be a star on the football field, but he’s infamously prickly with the press. Now, a day after implying that it was “funny” that a female sports reporter might actually understand basic football terminology, Newton will no longer be in ads for the official yogurt of the NFL.
The Charlotte Observer reports that Dannon, for which Newton had done a series of Oikos Greek yogurt ads since 2015, had sacked the quarterback over his recent remark to Observer sports reporter Jourdan Rodrigue.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Rodrigue asked Newton a rather innocuous question about the Panthers’ passing game, referencing wide receiver Devin Funchess’ ability to run routes.
Newtown eventually answered the question, but not before pausing and commenting with a chuckle that “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes… It’s funny.”
The takeaway for many was that Newton couldn’t believe that someone who gets paid to understand and write about football would know what a “route” is just because that person happens to be a woman.
Rodrigue says she subsequently confronted Newton directly about the comment but that the quarterback, was unapologetic and effectively attempted to mansplain that she was probably confusing “routes” with a player just being open. Rodrigue claims that Newton didn’t even know who she was, despite being a football beat reporter for Charlotte’s largest newspaper who has covered the team on a daily basis since last season.
The team’s account of this second chat is very different, with a spokesperson for the Panthers claiming that the quarterback “expressed regret for using those words.”
That wasn’t enough for Dannon, which today told the Observer that the company was “shocked and disheartened” by Newtown’s behavior at the press conference. The company labeled his response to Rodrigue’s question as “sexist and disparaging to all women.”
“It is entirely inconsistent with our commitment to fostering equality and inclusion in every workplace,” says the company. “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.”
Newton’s agent countered that Dannon had not terminated its contract with the quarterback, to which Dannon responded that, indeed, the agreement had not been legally terminated, but “we will no longer work with him and are removing advertising with him in it.”
Basically, he’s not being traded or cut, but he’s not going to play for the yogurt brand.
Other endorsers of Newton have expressed concerns about his behavior, with Gatorade reportedly saying that the comments were “objectionable and disrespectful,” while retail chain Belk says it will not renew its endorsement deal with Newton when it expires in January.