Earlier week, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was holding his weekly Wednesday press conference, when Panthers beat writer Jourdan Rodrigue asked him about some of the routes Devin Funchess runs. In response, Newton smiled and said, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes.”
There was plenty of backlash over the comments, with one sponsor pulling him from advertising and admonishing his comments. The Panthers initially said Newton and Rodrigue spoke later to clear the air, although Rodrigue said they did speak and Newton did not apologize at the time. Newton eventually issued an apology Thursday evening.
The San Francisco 49ers have a woman on staff in Katie Sowers. She was a Bill Walsh Fellow during training camp, and was hired on full time for the season after camp. Part of her job involves working with the wide receivers.
On Friday, head coach Kyle Shanahan made his bi-weekly KNBR appearance, and they asked him about the fact that Sowers does work with receivers.
Honestly, I didn’t even think about that, but you’re right. We definitely have a woman who talks about routes all the time. I think our players definitely listen to her, so, it definitely caught me off when I saw Cam’s comments. I mean I read them, I never saw them when he said it, but heard he apologized last night, which I think was definitely needed. But that’s something that we don’t look at it that way around here.
I’d like to think after hearing from people, Newton recognizes the sexist nature of his comments. Of course, it took him a day and a half to issue an apology, so I’m not exactly holding my breath on this.
On a related note, since the incident, some old tweets of Rodrigue have emerged in which she is making racist comments. That has developed into a story of its own, and for many it is superseding the issue of Newton’s sexism. Let’s be clear on one thing, both are entirely inappropriate. Calling Newton out for sexism does not preclude addressing the fact that Rodrigue made racist comments. That is incredibly important, particularly give the majority black player population in the NFL. It should be addressed as well, and not just with a “I got caught” apology. That being said, both can be addressed without diminishing either the racism OR the sexism.