Cam Controversy a Distraction for Panthers

CHARLOTTE, NC — A national controversy. A lost endorsement. And a major distraction for his team.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is at the center of a firestorm.

An exchange with a reporter during a news conference has put the QB on the front line of the debate on sexism in sports.

“Michael writes in on the mailbag and says, ‘Hey V, If we lose to Detroit and you know who plays like garbage, this story is not going to go away,” those words from Charlotte sports talk radio host Gerry V on his show Thursday afternoon.

Panthers fans are coming down on both sides. Some supporting quarterback Cam Newton, who did issue an apology Thursday night.

Others calling him out for his response to a question from Charlotte Observer beat writer Jourdan Rodrigue, after she asked a question about routes run by Panthers receiver Devin Funchess.

“It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes, like,” said Newton from the press conference podium Wednesday. “It’s funny.”

Those words were called sexist by local and national media, and many football fans across the country.

Oikos yogurt, who Cam has been pitching for since 2015, says they were “shocked and disheartened” by his comments, and will no longer run commercials with Newton.

“The more time he allows to elapse, the apology looks disingenuous,” said Charlotte sports talk radio host Gerry Vaillancourt.

Cam’s comments come at a time when women make up 45% of the NFL fan base, and the league is focused on attracting more young women to the sport.

ESPN Charlotte radio host Gerry V says Cam could have disarmed the situation right away, avoiding all this controversy.

“Just come out and say you were sorry,” said Vaillancourt. “You apologize. You didn’t mean it that way at the time. He should have spoken immediately, or right thereafter.”

Instead, the Panthers prepare for Sunday’s game in Detroit under a giant Cam cloud.

“I think Cam made a mistake,” said Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. “I understand he had a conversation where he pretty much said that he shouldn’t have said what he said.”

“You know that’s something that Cam is going to have to deal with with you guys,” said Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis. “And he’s going to have to deal with that moving forward. You know I feel like it’s a situation that he’s going to handle.”

Cam also has endorsement deals with Under Armour, Gatorade and Beats by Dre headphones.

Gatorade called his comments “objectionable and disrespectful to all women”, but did not say if they will continue to work with CamCam.