ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
NFL quarterback Cam Newton is in the midst of another controversy. Newton made a comment to a female football writer on Wednesday that's being called sexist by some, simply dumb by others. NPR's Tom Goldman has our report.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has never been the shy and retiring type. He's generated controversy with his effusive displays after scoring touchdowns. He incurred the wrath of journalists with his sullen and early exit from a post-Super Bowl interview a couple of years ago. Then yesterday he had this interaction with Jourdan Rodrigue. She's a Panthers beat reporter for The Charlotte Observer. Rodrigue asked Newton about one of his wide receivers.
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JOURDAN RODRIGUE: Devin Funchess has seemed to really embrace the physicality of his routes and making - getting those extra yards. Does that give you a little bit of an enjoyment to see him kind of truck-sticking people out there?
CAM NEWTON: It's funny to hear a female talk about routes like - it's funny.
KAVITHA DAVIDSON: My first reaction was really? Really? Like, we're still talking about this in this way?
GOLDMAN: Twenty-eight-year-old Kavitha Davidson has been an ESPN reporter for the past four years, an era when women have become more of a given rather than an exception in sports journalism. But she says Cam Newton's comment is indicative of a mentality that still exists.
DAVIDSON: It's still an anomaly. It's still weird for men, whether it's fans or athletes or GMs or coaches, to hear women speak intelligently about sports, and in this case analytically as well.
GOLDMAN: Davidson has interviewed Cam Newton. She likes him. She says he's a joking person who doesn't always think before he speaks. And Davidson says he should know better considering the criticism of Newton, who's African-American, for his on-field celebrations and sometimes testy relationship with reporters.
DAVIDSON: I think some of those criticisms are racially tinged, frankly.
GOLDMAN: After yesterday's press conference, Jourdan Rodrigue says she talked to Newton and he didn't apologize for the press conference comment. Rodrigue, however, did end up apologizing today for some racially insensitive tweets she made a few years ago. As for Cam Newton, Dannon yogurt, which has an endorsement contract with him, released a statement saying the company will no longer work with the Panthers quarterback. When asked if it planned to punish Newton, an NFL spokesman said via email it has not fined people for saying something stupid. The league released a statement saying the comments are just plain wrong and disrespectful and don't reflect the thinking of the league. Tom Goldman, NPR News.
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