Cam Newton issues apology after remarks to female sportswriter spark widespread backlash

PHOTO: Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton speaks to the media following an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Oct. 1, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass.PlaySteven Senne/AP
WATCH NFL star apologizes for comments to female reporter

Football star and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has apologized after he came under fire for controversial comments to a female reporter at a press conference on Wednesday.

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Jourdan Rodrigue, a Panthers beat reporter for the Charlotte Observer, asked Newton about the routes being run by his wide receivers. Newton smiled and laughed, and then said, "It's funny to hear a female talk about routes," before answering the question.

Rodrigue claimed that she tried to speak privately with Newton in the locker room following his remark. According to Rodrigue, Newton didn't take her up on the offer and never apologized.

Newton, who lost a major sponsorship deal with Dannon over the comments, finally issued an apology on Thursday afternoon.

"After careful thought, I understand that my word choice was extremely degrading and disrespectful to women. And to be honest that was not my intentions," Newton said. "And if you are a person who took offense to what I said, I sincerely apologize to you. ... I’m a father to two beautiful daughters and at their age, I try to instill in them that they can do and be anything that they want to be and the fact that during this whole process I’ve already lost sponsors and countless fans, I realize that the joke was really on me."

Steven Drummond, director of communications for the Panthers, told ESPN in a statement that Newton and Rodrigue "had a conversation where he expressed regret for using those words." He did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Ron Rivera, head coach of the Panthers, addressed the controversy in a press conference Thursday.

"Well, I think Cam made a mistake," he said. "I understand he had a conversation where he pretty much said he shouldn’t have said what he said.”

Various sports reporters have chimed in on social media about Cam's remark.

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reacted with "extreme disappointment" to the news, adding that Newton's response felt out of character and inconsiderate.

"Then to have an opportunity to address it privately with her one-on-one but refuse to do so having not apologized makes it even more alarming," Smith said.

NFL Network host Lindsay Rhodes shared a picture of her all-female sports production team with the hashtag "funny."

Former NFL player and current NFL contributor Ross Tucker was surprised that Newton could be so "unaware" to make such a statement in his seventh year in the NFL.

Dannon on Thursday announced it was parting ways with Newton, who has been a spokesperson for the company's Oikos line of Greek yogurt.

However, Carlos Flemming, Newton’s marketing agent at WME/IMG, told ESPN that the company did not sever its endorsement deal with his client, "nor do they have the grounds to." Fleming did not immediately respond to ABC News for comment.