Cam Newton apologizes for ‘extremely unacceptable’ remarks to female reporter

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton apologized Thursday night for remarks to a female reporter that were widely denounced as sexist — and urged his young fans to "be better than me."

Oiko yogurt canceled a sponsorship deal the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner and even the National Football League slammed Newton, one of its most popular and recognizable stars, after he appeared to ridicule Jourdan Rodrigue, who covers the Panthers for The Charlotte Observer, on Wednesday.

When Rodrigue asked Newton at a news conference about the skill at running pass routes displayed by one of his wide receivers, Newton smirked and said: "It's funny to hear a female talk about routes. It’s funny."

RELATED: Cam Newton through his career

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Cam Newton through his career
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Cam Newton through his career
Auburn quarterback Cam Newton helps fire up his team prior to the start of the fourth quarter against Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Friday, November 26, 2010. The energy served his team well as Auburn rallied to defeat Alabama, 28-27. (Photo by Robin Trimarchi/Columbus Ledger-Enquirer/MCT via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11: 2010 Heisman Trophy candidate Cam Newton of the Auburn University Tigers speaks at a press conference at The New York Marriott Marquis on December 11, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 11: Quarterback Cam Newton of the Auburn University Tigers speaks after being named the 76th Heisman Memorial Trophy Award winner at the Best Buy Theater on December 11, 2010 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: Photographer approval needed for all Commercial License requests. (Photo by Kelly Kline/Getty Images for The Heisman)
NEW YORK , NY - DECEMBER 12: ( L- R ) Bo Jackson (1985), Cam Newton (2010) and Pat Sullivan (1971) the three Heisman Trophy winners from the Auburn University Tigers pose during a portrait session on December 12, 2010 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: Photographer approval needed for all Commercial License requests. (Photo by Kelly Kline/Getty Images for the Heisman)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Cam Newton passes the ball during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - CIRCA 2011: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers poses for his NFL headshot circa 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
Carolina Panthers quarterbacks Derek Anderson, left, and rookie Cam Newton stand on the sideline during the first quarter against the New York Giants at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, Saturday, August 13, 2011. (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks downfield for a pass in their game on Sunday, November 27, 2011, in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Panthers won the game 27-19. (Sam Riche/MCT via Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 11: Quarterback Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers meets Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons after the game at Bank of America Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Falcons defeated the Panthers 31 to 23. (Photo by Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images)
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton - January 2012. Bigger, Faster, Stronger, Smarter, Younger - Today's athletes are the sports they play continue to evolve at an extraordinary rate - which means 2012 ought to be unlike anything you've seen before (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 04: Professional Football Player Cam Newton speaks during the 2012 NFL Honors at the Murat Theatre on February 4, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton answers questions from the media following the team's game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, October 7, 2012, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Seahawks won, 16-12. (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
Carolina Panthersquarterback Cam Newton grimaces as his left ankle is tended to by team personnel following an injury in the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, Sunday, December 30, 2012. The Panthers defeated the Saints, 44-38. (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 09: Quarterback Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers takes the field before a preseason NFL game against Chicago Bears at Bank of America Stadium on August 9, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 24-17. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 22: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers stands on the sidelines with his trademark Gatorade towel during the final minute of a win over the New York Giants during play at Bank of America Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 38-0. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 20: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on October 20, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 18: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers warms up for a game against the New England Patriots at Bank of America Stadium on November 18, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 24-20. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 18: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates with fans after the game against the New England Patriots at Bank of America Stadium on November 18, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 12: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after a touchdown pass to Steve Smith #89 in the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 12, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 31: Cam Newton rings the closing bell at New York Stock Exchange on January 31, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Zak Photography/WireImage)
SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 15: NFL player Cam Newton attends Cartoon Network's Hall of Game Awards at Barker Hangar on February 15, 2014 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 21: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers makes his entrance against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game at Bank of America Stadium on September 21, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 20: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 20, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 04: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers runs across the field after the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 02: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers takes the field before their game against the Indianapolis Colts at Bank of America Stadium on November 2, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Related: Cam Newton Puts Spotlight on the Sexism That Women Covering Sports Often Face

The NFL, echoing the responses of many journalism groups and sportswriters — both male and female — called the remarks "just plain wrong and disrespectful to the exceptional female reporters and all journalists who cover our league."

In a video he posted to Twitter on Thursday night, Newton acknowledged that "what I did was extremely unacceptable."

"The fact that, during this whole process, I've already lost sponsors and countless fans — I realize that the joke is really on me," he said. "I've learned a valuable lesson from this."

Oiko, which is produced by Dannon Co. Inc., is the only company publicly known to have severed its ties with Newton. His reference to "sponsors" wasn't immediately clear.

Related: NFL Calls Newton’s Comments “Just Plain Wrong and Disrespectful'

Toward the end of the 1-minute, 48-second video, Newton said: "And to the young people who see this, I hope that you learn something from this as well: Don't be like me. Be better than me."

The Observer reported Thursday that Rodrigue approached Newton after the news conference to ask whether he truly believed that football was too sophisticated to understand.

According to The Observer, Newton told Rodrigue that she "wasn't really seeing specific routes when watching the game, she was just seeing if somebody was open." It said he then told her that he should have directed his comment at reporters in general. 

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