Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said the "joke is on me" as he apologized for a sexist remark he made to a female reporter.
The 28-year-old has lost a sponsor, been condemned by the NFL and attracted intense criticism from around the world for the comments he made at a news conference Wednesday when a reporter, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Charlotte Observer, asked the player about the passing routes of receiver Devin Funchess.
"It's funny to hear a female talk about routes," was Newton reply, laughing and smiling before repeating that it was "funny."
Rodrigue said later on Twitter: "I don't think it's 'funny' to be a female and talk about routes. I think it's my job."
One of Newton's sponsors Oikos yogurt said Thursday in a statement that it was "shocked and disheartened" by the quarterback's behavior and would no longer be working with him, while the NFL said Newton's comments were "plain wrong and disrespectful."
'Don't be like me'
In a video posted on his Twitter account, Newton -- the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 400 yards on his debut -- addressed his comments, describing his choice of words as "extremely degrading and disrespectful."
— Cameron Newton (@CameronNewton) October 6, 2017
"I'm a man who tries to be a positive role model to my community and tries to use my platform to inspire others. I take ownership everything that comes with that," said Newton, who in 2015 signed a contract extension worth more than $100 million with the Panthers.
"What I did was extremely unacceptable. I'm a father to two beautiful daughters and, at their age, I try to instil in them that they can do an be anything that they want to be.
"The fact that during this whole process I've already lost sponsors and countless fans, I realize the joke is on me and I've learned a valuable lesson from this."
Newton directed a message to his young fans, adding: "I hope that you learn something from this as well. Don't be like me. Be better than me."
On Thursday, Rodrigue also issued an apology on Twitter for posts made in 2012 about her father making racist jokes and for a tweet in 2012 which contained a racist term.
"There is no excuse for these tweets and the sentiment behind them," she said.