Why You Shouldn’t Take Cam Newton’s Apology Seriously

His apology isn’t resonating with at least one expert observer.

Image via Cam Newton/Facebook.

The last 48 hours have been a roller coaster for Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and anyone paying attention to him.

The NFL star caused an enormous controversy Wednesday with his shockingly sexist remarks to a female journalist who asked him a question during a press conference. On Thursday night, Newton issued an apology video through his official Facebook and Twitter accounts. Though some felt the apology was sincere, it had the hallmarks of a professionally crafted public relations apology, leaning on the trope of “apologizing” to “anyone who was offended” by the action rather than apologizing for the action itself.

“After careful thought, I understand that my word choice was extremely degrading and disrespectful to women,” Newton says in his apology video, lowering his head in an apparent sign of contrition. After insisting that this wasn’t at all what he intended, Newton essentially disowns his own culpability, adding, “If you were a person who took offense to what I said, I sincerely apologize to you.”

Newton then goes on to applaud himself for his work in the community, being a great dad and then bemoaning his lost corporate sponsorship money before wrapping up with a seemingly sincere request for forgiveness from women and fans everywhere.

Oh, and that reporter who was the direct target of Newton’s sexism? She says she still hasn’t received any kind of apology. Though she has bigger problems of her own to deal with now. The reporter’s own previous racist comments on Twitter will give Newton an extra pass since he has himself been the target of racially insensitive comments and questions from the media.

But back to that half-hearted apology.

From politicians to celebrities and athletes, the “if you took offense” apology has become an all-too-common way of circumventing outright responsibility for a wrongful act. Writing in Psychology Today, Suffolk University’s Beverly Flaxington explains that such techniques “fall into what might be termed as the passive-aggressive category – you know the person is hurt, you know you did something to contribute to it, but you don’t really feel compelled to own it.”

And while this may technically get Newton off the hook with the media and many in social media, there is at least one critic who isn’t having it.

In a video that has quickly gone viral, one young football fan takes Newton down a notch. And it doesn’t hurt that her team, the Philadelphia Eagles, is playing Newton’s team Thursday, Oct. 12. From the video:

“OK, Cam, pay attention because I’m only going to say this once,” the unnamed girl says. She then outlines different offensive passing routes to show her football expertise before asking Newton, “Cam, why do you wear the same clothes as my grandma? That’s weird.”

After explaining a few more routes, she drops the proverbial mic, deadpanning, “You know, I think real boys fall on the football,” a reference to Newton losing a pivotal game with a costly turnover.


When former Pittsburgh Steelers' center Mike Webster committed suicide in 2002, his death began to raise awareness of the brain damage experienced by NFL football players. A 2017 study found that 99% of deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disease known as CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Only one out of 111 former football players had no sign of CTE. It turns out, some of the risks of traumatic brain injury experienced by heavily padded adults playing at a professional level also exist for kids with developing brains playing at a recreational level. The dangers might not be as intense as what the adults go through, but it can have some major life-long consequences.

A new PSA put out by the Concussion Legacy Foundation raises awareness of the dangers of tackle football on developing brains, comparing it to smoking. "Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I am exposed to danger. You wouldn't let me smoke. When should I start tackling?" a child's voice can be heard saying in the PSA as a mother lights up a cigarette for her young son.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted about some favorable economic numbers, claiming that annual household income is up, unemployment is low, and housing prices are high.

Now, just imagine how much better those numbers would be if the country wasn't mired in an economy-killing trade war with China, bleeding out trillion-dollar-a-year debts, and didn't suffer from chaotic leadership in the Oval Office?

At the end of tweet, came an odd sentence, "Impeach the Pres."

Keep Reading Show less

October is domestic violence awareness month and when most people think of domestic violence, they imagine mostly female victims. However, abuse of men happens as well – in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. But some are taking it upon themselves to change all that.

Keep Reading Show less

At this point most reasonable people agree that climate change is a serious problem. And while a lot of good people are working on solutions, and we're all chipping in by using fewer plastic bags, it's also helpful to understand where the leading causes of the issue stem from. The list of 20 leading emitters of carbon dioxide by The Guardian newspaper does just that.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via International Labour Organization / Flickr and Michael Moore / Facebook

Before the release of "The Joker" there was a glut of stories in the media about the film's potential to incite violence.

The FBI issued a warning, saying the film may inspire violence from a group known as the Clowncels, a subgroup of the involuntarily celibate or Incel community.

Incels an online subculture who believe they are unable to attract a sexual partner. The American nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center describes them as "part of the online male supremacist ecosystem" that is included in its list of hate groups.

Keep Reading Show less