Sometimes Superman isn’t so super

Published 11:40 am Monday, October 9, 2017

He can be theatrical.

Sometimes it’s his fashion dress – costumes, really – other times its things like the ‘Dab’, handing footballs to kids in the stands, first-down celebrations, and even the pantomime of ripping open his shirt, a la Superman.

I actually thought Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton would take more heat this week for his raised clinched fist after running in for a touchdown Sunday in the team’s win over New England.

And then along came Wednesday.

Whatever you want to say about Newton’s antics or his opinions, the Cam Newton that doesn’t care what you think about his raised fist, his postgame outfits or his first-down points is a heckuva quarterback. Period.

In six-plus seasons with Carolina, Newton has led the most successful stretch in franchise history: three division titles, one NFC Championship and even a Super Bowl. Newton continues to break records, becoming the leader in all-time wins for Carolina with his latest victory over New England.

Off the field his success has earned him lucrative marketing deals with Dannon yogurt, UnderArmour, and Gatorade.

However, warranted or not, Newton continues to face criticism for various instances with the media, and sometimes his smiling and laughing become his undoing.

It used to only happen when he wasn’t smiling: like the abrupt Super Bowl-50 post-game press conference; the one that lasted all of two minutes-and-29 seconds before he stormed out of the room and into infamy.

In defense of Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue, this outstanding, professional journalist asked one simple question: was Newton proud of his receivers, particularly Devin Funchess, and the way he has been aggressively running his routes.

Before Newton answered, he smiled that Cam Newton mega-watt Colgate smile, and maybe that made it worse.

Newton responded, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes like – it’s funny.”

The story could – and some agree, should – have ended there but instead it continued, primarily because both sides issued contradictory statements regarding the exchange. The Panthers brass said the two had met afterward, and all was well. Rodrigue, however, said Newton ‘doubled-down’ on his sexist remarks and did not apologize.

I’ve been a sportswriter for over 40 years. It’s tough sometimes for women in this business because they always have to keep legitimizing themselves, validating why they belong in a locker room, or even deserve a presence on press row.

Heck, most women sportswriters know more about the intricacies of sports – from amateur to professional – than I do!

Yes, there are ladies who care about more in football than who’s performing at halftime of the Super Bowl, or why the Cowboys wear stars on their helmets.

It’s dumbfounding that, in 2017, we have to remind people that everyone in the workforce, men and women alike, should be treated with courtesy and respect. That a woman in sports media, or business, or medicine, architecture, or any other profession there is, is just as capable, just as informed as the guy sitting next to her; maybe even more so.

Yet, here we are. Still. And take it from someone who knows a thing or two about having to prove oneself.

Could Newton have done worse? Yes, but he also could have done so much better and needs to make an attempt at correcting that comment – and soon! He ran up against a lady who knew exactly what she was talking about; while he on the other hand acted like he had no clue.

Hey, Jourdan, how about explaining a route tree to me? Come to think of it, what the heck are ‘multiple shifts’ anyway?


Gene Motley is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7211.