I blame social media and the people who wallow in it ... for everything, but especially for this ...
Last week Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was being interviewed at a post-game press conference when Charlotte Observer reporter Jordan Rodrigue, a female reporter—and I only use the word ‘female’ because some might think Jordan was a man’s name—asked about wide receiver Devin Funchess embracing the physicality of “routes” and whether Newton got enjoyment out of that.
Don’t ask me about “routes” because to me that only means how I get to and from someplace ... but I digress.
Newton responded like this:
“It's funny to hear a female talk about routes like ... it's funny."
It’s not funny, it’s actually kind of stupid and a little degrading and all sorts of misogynistic to think a woman couldn’t know anything about sports. Do I think he meant it as hurtful? I don’t; I don’t think he was thinking, or maybe he thought he was being cute and playful; he was not.
Rodrigue didn’t like it either; and she says she confronted Newton after the news conference, but he didn’t apologize and so she took her rage to Twitter with this:
“I don't think it's "funny" to be a female and talk about routes. I think it's my job.”
And then, you know, because of social media, the story went viral. And after viral comes a loss of revenue for Cam Newton, because Dannon Oikos Yogurt, for whom Newton had been a spokesman, said they would no longer would him in their commercials and advertisements, and began pulling any ad featuring Newton instantly.
And then Newton apologized, perhaps when his wallet became a target, or perhaps when his wife smacked him upside the head, or perhaps when he saw himself acting like a jerk:
"After careful thought, I understand that my word choice was extremely degrading and disrespectful to women. And to be honest, that was not my intention. If you are a person who took offense to what I said, I sincerely apologize to you. I'm a man who tries to be a positive role model to my community and tries to use my platform to inspire others. I take ownership to everything that comes with that. What I did was extremely unacceptable."
Newton noted that he has two daughters.
"At their age, I try to instill in them that they can do and be anything that they want to be. The fact that during this process I've already lost sponsors and countless fans, I realized that the joke is really on me. And I've learned a valuable lesson from this. To the young people who see this, I hope that you learn something from this as well. Don't be like me; be better than me. To the reporters, to the journalists, to the moms—super moms—to the daughters, the sisters and the women all around the world, I sincerely apologize and hope that you can find the kindness of your heart to forgive me."
Okay, so he said it ... but couldn’t it have played out differently if people actually spoke to one another rather than taking their anger or frustration to social media to try and gather support for their upset? I mean, I can’t help but think it might have been entirely different had it gone down like this ...
Rodrigue asks, “Cam, I know you take a lot of pride in seeing your receivers play well. Devin Funchess has seemed 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-sticking people out there?”
Newton replies, “It's funny to hear a female talk about routes like ... it's funny."
Rodrigue, instead of Tweeting, says: “I don't think it's "funny" to be a female and talk about routes. I think it's my job.”
Then maybe Cam Newton could have learned something about how to treat a female reporter rather than losing endorsements or being dragged through the mud via social media; maybe then people wouldn’t have come for Rodrigue with receipts of their own ...
See, after Jordan Rodrigue’s Tweet about Newton people did a wee investigation and found that four or five years ago, she had Tweeted out some racist jokes and thoughts.
“My dad is being super racist as we pass through Navajo land.”
“He’s the best. Racist jokes the whole drive home.”
May 2013, Jordan quoted a Twitter parody account:
“The earth moves at 450+ mph that’s 10 times triller than NASCAR Dale Earnhart’s [sic] a b---- n----”
So it became Jordan Rodrigue’s turn to apologize:
“I apologize for the offensive tweets from my Twitter account 4/5 years ago. There is no excuse for these tweets and the sentiment behind them. I am deeply sorry and apologize.”
And so we have people coming down hard on Newton for his sexist remarks and people coming down hard on Rodrigue for his racist tweets, and yet if Jordan Rodrigue had simply, and quickly, put Cam Newton in his place during that press conference, none of this madness would have followed.
Try talking to one another when you’re angry or annoyed or upset; don’t take your mood to Twitter because then all you’re doing is involving the whole world in a kerfuffle that could have been over in a hot minute if you’d just ... used ... your ... words.
Now, that doesn’t mean Cam Newton gets off without repercussions, because he’d still be the “man” who made light of a “woman” being a sports reporter, but at least it wouldn’t have gone this far, this wide, this big.
It would have been over.
Use your words, not your social media, m’kay?