Time to hire a crisis manager?
During a Carolina Panthers press conference Wednesday, quarterback Cam Newton offended The Charlotte Observer's Jourdan Rodrigue—and feminists the world over—when he laughed at her question, telling the reporter, "It's funny to hear a female talk about 'routes.' It's funny."
Rodrigue didn't find it funny, and neither did Dannon. The athlete, who has not apologized to the reporter privately or publicly, lost his sponsorship with Oikos Greek Yogurt as a result of his remarks; the company hired Newton in 2015, and he appeared in TV commercials and other marketing campaigns. "As an athlete, I pay close attention to what I eat, whether it's between meals or after working out," he said at the time. "It's funny because I really do find myself searching the grocery store for new protein snack options. Oikos Triple Zero was quite honestly right up my alley—not only because of its nutritional benefits, but because it tastes good, too."
In a statement to E! News, a Dannon spokesperson said Thursday that the company was "shocked and disheartened" by the football player's comments, which they "perceive as sexist and disparaging to all women." Furthermore, "It is entirely inconsistent with our commitment to fostering equality and inclusion in every workplace. It's simply not OK to belittle anyone based on gender. We have shared our concerns with Cam and will no longer work with him."
It's unclear how much Dannon had been paying Newton to promote its yogurt, but two years ago, the company touted his involvement as part of a "multi-million dollar media investment."
(USA Today first reported the news of Dannon's decision to fire Newton Thursday.)
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said during a media briefing Thursday that "conversations" are happening within the Panthers organization regarding Newton's comments. In spite of the negative publicity he caused, he added, "I don't want to anticipate the league stepping in here."
"Everyone on this call knows the level of sophistication of our sports journalists. Gender plays no role at all in that," Lockhart said, according to NBC Sports. "[Newton's] statement was just wrong, and the people on this call know it is wrong, because you have first-hand experience."
(E! and NBC Sports are both members of the NBCUniversal family.)