Newton: "Just having a lot of allegations thrown at a person isn't fair."
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said he still thinks highly of Jerry Richardson, the Panthers owner who put the team up for sale amid an NFL investigation into workplace misconduct.
That misconduct includes sexual harassment and using a racial slur toward a scout, according to a Sports Illustrated report.
"Before I say anything, I take sexual assault extremely serious," Newton said at a press conference Wednesday, according to ESPN's Coley Harvey. "But allegations, that's a different thing...In this day and time, it's almost you're automatically guilty until proven innocent rather than, in the rights of the judicial system, you're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.
"Everything that I've heard were allegations. Nothing is actually proven. It's just another person's word against another person's word. Needless to say, I still think extremely highly of Mr. Richardson."
Newton was one of multiple players who reportedly met with Richardson before he announced his plan to sell the team, and he told reporters he left the meeting "disgruntled" because he does not want Richardson to sell.
Newton compared Richardson's situation to the allegations made against him in 2010, when Newton was at Auburn. His father Cecil was accused of soliciting payment from schools in exchange for Newton's commitment, but Newton himself was never punished because he was not proven to be aware of his father's actions.
"I basically almost got an NCAA, almost been suspended, just off an allegation. That's how I feel about it. Not comparing apples to apples. It's still something somebody said that, and...When I went through my allegations, it was all false."
It's interesting to hear Newton speak so candidly about the specific allegations made against Richardson, as the organization has not acknowledged the investigation and Richardson's statement did not, either.
While the team has been in the news recently for matters off the football field, Carolina picked up a huge win over the Packers on Sunday to get to 10-4 and stay in playoff position. The Panthers host the Buccaneers this weekend before finishing the season with a crucial game in Atlanta.
Newton himself came under harsh criticism earlier this season when he made a sexist remark to a female reporter in October. When responding to Jourdan Rodrigue's question about Devin Funchess' route running, Newton said, "it's funny to hear a female talk about routes."