It’s possible the Carolina Panthers quarterback simply wants to save himself from another media gaffe, though the NFL may have something to say about that.
While nearly every pro athlete has ups and downs with the media, it’s safe to say that Cam Newton is in the midst of one of his downs right now. Two weeks ago, Newton made some ill-advised comments about a female beat reporter suggesting women talking about pass routes was funny — comments for which he later apologized.
One way to avoid sticking one’s foot in one’s mouth with the press is just not to talk to them. Alas, that’s against NFL rules, which stipulate that its stars must have in-week media availability during the season.
A debate could surely be had about whether that’s something that’s necessary, but rules or rules, which is why ESPN is reporting that the NFL is investigating why Newton skipped a planned press conference on Thursday. Even Panthers coach Ron Rivera seemed taken aback by his QB’s absence.
Interestingly, the reporter at the center of Newton’s faux pas, Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer, was back on the Panthers beat this week. She’s been around for press sessions twice this week and Cam hasn’t spoken.
That could be a coincidence, but it also might not be. If we take Newton at his word from his apology, he doesn’t have a problem with female reporters in general. That’s a good thing.
But it still seems like he might have some beef with Rodrique in particular, which is curious considering she’s been praised for her knowledge by all who work with her and didn’t seem to be attacking Newton with her questioning two weeks ago. The NFL can fine the Panthers star for not talking (something Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch can attest), and while Newton can afford to pay some fines, the fact that he’d even risk it hints at a larger issue that just the normal ebbs and flows of relationships with the media.