It’s been nearly a full day since Panthers quarterback Cam Newton made a blatantly sexist remark during a press conference, saying that it’s “funny” to hear a female reporter ask about pass routes. Newton still hasn’t apologized. But does it really change anything if he does?
He said what he said. It wasn’t a mistake or a gaffe or a faux pas. It was a window into the true feelings of 28-year-old adult who has been interacting with male and female reporters for years. He said it, and he meant it. The only real regret would be that he provided everyone with a glimpse into his true character.
That’s why an apology at this point would be pointless. Whether it comes via a written statement, a tearful reading of a written statement, or an Instagram post with those indecipherable letters he loves to use, no one will believe that it’s the real thing because the real thing came on Wednesday, and there’s no way his real feelings can change in only one day.
If he were a rookie, it would be tempting to believe that an H.R. seminar or something like that could change his thinking. As he closes in on his 30th birthday, Newton pretty much is who he is, and he thinks what he thinks. While that could change over time, it’s not changing any time soon.
So maybe it’s better to say nothing, since no one will believe anything he says.
That said, he can’t duck it. After Sunday’s game in Detroit, reporters will be ready to ask him all about it, hopefully starting with questions derived from Joe Pesci’s “funny how?” monologue from Goodfellas. For that reason, the best move might be to have another press conference today, during which he answers any and all questions about the comment, takes his lumps publicly, and then tries to move on.
That likely won’t happen, though, because there’s no reason to think he won’t make it worse. Indeed, at a time when criticism for inappropriate remarks routinely is met with an accusation that it’s another case of “political correctness run amok,” there’s a chance that Newton would double down, deliberately or not.
So maybe his best plan is to say nothing. That definitely would have been his best plan on Wednesday. Because in the ongoing effort by NFL players to secure true racial equality, the key word is equality — and true equality has no subcategories.