Cam Newton’s sexist episode ran afoul of common decency. Treating professionals of any gender with respect is a low bar to clear, but the Carolina Panthers quarterback still fell short. He made a mistake, whether out of malice or ignorance. The mature thing to do would be to offer an apology and mean it.
Let’s take right and wrong and maturity and earnestness out of the equation. Let’s look at this situation through the eyes of a bottom-line obsessed cynic. Through that lens, it’s even more astounding that Newton hasn’t yet apologized.
He was always going to take justified heat for his dismissive answer. It’s his mismanagement of the emerging public relations crisis that’s more damning. Given the opportunity to clear the air with the woman in question — Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer — Newton repeatedly declined to apologize or successfully de-escalate the tension.
This is how one makes a problem worse. It’s how one turns a one-day story into a week-long story. What is the end game? How can Newton and the Panthers be so oblivious to the fact that there’s a cleanup here?
It would take a certain level of gullibility here to accept that an apology proctored 18 hours after the initial incident and repeated flubs is heartfelt. People embroiled in these types of pickles usually do it anyway in an effort to stop the rushing tide of criticism from bursting through the dam.
At the minimum, it would be an admission that a mistake was made. We are, at our core, an outrage society but this simple step does wonders in placating the masses.
More importantly, it’s tough to fathom how Newton believes he can outrun this or wait it out. He’s going to be in front of cameras over and over again and will be asked about it. It’s not going away until he addresses it in a fashion that offers a modicum of closure.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for him to apologize, though. The more time passes, the longer those odds get. It’s an interesting strategy, just not a particularly wise one.