Last week Jourdan Rodrigue, a beat reporter for the Carolina Panthers, was in for the shock of her life when she asked Panthers quarterback Cam Newton about how much fun it was to play with wide receiver Devin Funchess.
Jourdan Rodrigue: Devin Funchess seems to really embrace the physicality of his routes and getting those extra yards. Does that give you a little bit of enjoyment to see him kind of [truck] people out there?
Cam Newton: It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes like that! Its funny … Fun has come along man. This is a big game for him with him being from Detroit … just to see his growth over the years … completely different player.
Cam’s entire response was awkward. What in the world would make him emphasize “routes” and “females”? Why would that even pop into his head? Secondly, what would make him think it was appropriate to say that to a woman reporter in a professional environment … in front of the media? Cam represents the NFL and the Panthers organization. He’s not simply running his own lemonade stand. If he wants to damage his personal brand then so be it, but he has no right to embarrass him employer like that.
Secondly, he didn’t even answer the question. Funchess is a 6’5″ 240 pound wide receiver that brings physicality the wide receiver position. It was that physicality that helped the Panthers fell the defending champion Patriots last week. The focus should have been Funchess’ play and value-added to the team, and not on “routes.”
How would Cam have responded if somewhat said to him, “It’s funny to hear an African-American talk about fried chicken! That’s funny … ” All hell would have broken loose. It was not a slip and I believe Cam knew exactly what he was doing. Later, Ms. Rodrigue took to twitter to express her disappointment at being the butt of a joke:
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
Cam later gave a heartfelt apology for his comments. He admitted that the comments were unacceptable, degrading and disrespectful. He also said it was not his intent to degrade Ms. Rodrigue.
The media likes drama and will run with the story. They will ask him about it before and after games this season. Now the focus is not on the play of Funchess or the Panthers, but on a 10 second soundbite that Cam has moved on from.