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Cam Newton's three main sponsors stick by him after apology

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While the media and the public howled about Cam Newton's remarks to a female reporter on Thursday, awaiting an apology, the Panthers quarterback was at practice. He had treatment; he watched film.

When he finally picked up his phone late in the afternoon, he realized the damage it had caused. It was ugly. He spoke to his father, as well as other members of his team. But sources say it was after conversations about his daughters and with important females in his life that Newton decided to apologize. That was important and eye-opening.

There was just one caveat. Newton refused to put out a written statement. It had to be on camera, his own words, nothing was written. Thus, the one-minute, 47-second clip shared by @CameronNewton wasn't perfect. The apology rambled a bit, for instance.

But he called his own words "extremely degrading and disrespectful. ... 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 to everything that comes with that. What I did was extremely unacceptable." The statement, in time to be shown during halftime of the Thursday night game, appeared to do the trick.

His main sponsors -- Under Armour, Beats by Dre, Gatorade -- had decided to stick by him, sources say. They wanted to know he didn't say those words intentionally and that he felt real remorse. They needed an apology.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera described his words as "something that needed to be said," and most of the criticism had ceased.

Only Dannon dropped him as a spokesman, though a source said their contract with him was expiring anyway, and they were looking for a way out.

A media storm created by Newton joking that a question from Charlotte Observer beat reporter Jourdan Rodrigue was "funny" because she was talking about routes had calmed. Newton apologized. Then Rodrigue apologized for racist tweets from several years ago that the internet unearthed.

Newton was said to be stunned by the reaction to a comment he originally thought was just toeing the line. And he didn't decide to apologize immediately. But once he spoke to those close to him, it was a no-brainer.

"To the reporters, to the journalists, to the moms -- super moms -- to the daughters, the sisters and the women all around the world, I sincerely apologize," said Newton, in the clip, which was retweeted 24,000 times and liked 72,000 times. "[I] hope that you can find the kindness of your heart to forgive me. Thank you."

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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