An NFL spokesman said that comments made by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in response to a female reporter’s question during a Wednesday news conference were “just plain wrong” and “disrespectful.”
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When Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue asked Newton about wide receiver Devin Funchess' route running, Newton smiled and said, "It's funny to hear a female talk about routes. It's funny."
After those comments, the quarterback proceeded to answer Rodrigue's question.
Carolina spokesman Steven Drummond said in a statement to The Associated Press that Newton had a conversation with Rodrigue after the news conference ended and expressed regret for his remarks.
Rodrigue released a statement through The Charlotte Observer via email saying that Newton did not apologize when they spoke after the news conference.
She said she "was dismayed by his response, which not only belittled me but countless other women before me and beside me who work in similar jobs. I sought Mr. Newton out as he left the locker room a few minutes later. He did not apologize for his comments."
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Wednesday night in a statement that Newton's comments "are just plain wrong and disrespectful to the exceptional female reporters and all journalists who cover our league. They do not reflect the thinking of the league."
Drummond said the Panthers "strive as a department to make the environment for media comfortable for everyone covering the team."
Mike Persinger, the executive sports editor of The Charlotte Observer, said Newton's comments were "unfortunate and out of line."
"The question Jourdan asked during the news conference was a good one, like countless other questions about football strategy and nuance she has asked in the course of doing her job," Persinger said.
Rodrigue joined The Charlotte Observer as a Panthers beat reporter last year.
She said on Twitter : "I don't think it's 'funny' to be a female and talk about routes. I think it's my job."
The Association for Women in Sports Media said in a statement that it "is very discouraged by Cam Newton's disrespectful remarks and actions directed to a female reporter during today's Carolina Panthers media conference. As a watchdog group, AWSM demands fair treatment and positive workplace environments for women working in sports media."
The Pro Football Writers of America also condemned Newton's comments, saying in a statement that he "crossed the line."
The Panthers (3-1) visit the Detroit Lions (3-1) on Sunday.