Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton opened his mouth and the strangest thing came out once again.
Newton was in the huddle, calling a play on Sunday afternoon, as the Panthers played the Detroit Lions in Ford Field. There was less than a minute left in the first half, and Newton’s mouth started working but the wrong words came out.
“To be honest, it was a broken play from the huddle,” Newton said, after leading the Panthers to a 27-24 victory over the Lions. “I didn’t call the wrong play, it just came out wrong.”
Yes, he’s had a problem with his mouth lately.
Last week, a female sports reporter asked Newton a question about Devin Funchess and his pass routes.
“It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes,” Newton said, “like… it’s funny.”
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That created a firestorm, rightfully so. It was disgusting.
Eventually, Newton apologized.
“He had some unfortunate circumstances this week,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “I think he addressed them at the appropriate time. Like I said before, I know he understands he made a mistake and it’s time to go forward.”
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Despite the botched play call, Newton dropped back to pass and spotted Funchess in the back of the end zone.
“It was a broken play,” Funchess said. “I saw him scrambling. He looked at me and I just told him I was going to go to the left.”
Newton threw the ball high and Funchess came down with a 10-yard touchdown that gave the Panthers a 17-10 lead.
“It’s probably the hardest catch I ever made in my career playing football, from high school on,” said Funchess, who played at Farmington Hills Harrison and at Michigan. “I surprised myself in the end zone. Bodies were right in front of me. I had to figure out where the end line was. It was just hard.”
Funchess said about 60 friends and family attended the game.
“It meant the world to me that I got to do it in front of the home crowd,” Funchess said. “It felt good to be back home.”
Insert foot in mouth, Part II
After the game, Newton went to a news conference in Ford Field.
He opened his mouth, explaining why he was wearing a hat with a Rosie the Riveter pin, and the strangest thing came out once again.
“Rosie the Riveter,” Newton said of the pin, an icon representing women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II. “I was trying to find a way to kind of hint a notion to all the women. I did my homework on her and her impact on World War II and not only her, but all of the women and females, who played a big impact in creating equipment for World War II.”
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Yes, the cynic in me believes this was a PR stunt, a chance to show him in a different light.
But he kept talking and started making up words and digging an even bigger hole.
“It was a symbolize, a symbization (sic) for inferior and strong women,” he said, making up words and, wait a second, what did he say?
OK. I’m gonna give him a pass here. I think he meant to say, “superior and strong women.”
“It was a lesson learned for me this whole week,” Newton continued. “My sarcasm, trying to give somebody a compliment, turned in ways that I would have never even imagined.”
Now, here’s the crazy thing.
In the midst of this controversy, Newton was unfazed. He played fantastic, throwing for 355 yards and three touchdowns.
“He’s a good player,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “I mean, he can do a little bit of everything.”
Everything but say the right thing at the right time.