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NELL REDMOND/AP/Shutterstock NELL REDMOND/AP/Shutterstock
A high school football player who was filmed taunting NFL quarterback Cam Newton during a tournament this weekend has apologized in a statement posted to social media.
Newton, 31, was hosting a football camp on Sunday when Jseth Owens of Perkiomen Valley High School in Pennsylvania began taunting him about being a free agent this offseason, Sports Illustrated reported. The moment was captured in a viral video that also shows Owens telling the 2015 NFL MVP he's "about to be poor," to which Newton asks to speak to his father. (Footage of the interaction can be viewed here.)
After spending his career with the Carolina Panthers, Newton — a 10-year NFL veteran — joined the New England Patriots for the 2020-2021 season. The Patriots are expected to move on from Newton following a less-than-stellar season, according to ESPN, and he has yet to announce an agreement with another team.
After the tournament, Newton posted a lengthy message on his Instagram page that included footage of him speaking with Owens after the altercation.
"People often forget as athletes that are often seen on TV — loved by most, hated by some — we are real dads, real friends, real brothers, real sons, real human beings," Newton wrote. "With that being said, when I attend tournaments all across the country with my all-star team, I have given my time, my energy and my expertise to these kids coming into our program for over 11 years and that is not what people want to hear or even want to see."
"People want to see me arguing with another young man and to see me 'get in my feelings.' But the truth is this, I impact kids' lives in a positive way," he said. "Make no mistake about it, I allow kids to realize their 'out' by using their football talents to get them to the next level and in most cases out of the hood."
A number of sports personalities spoke out in defense of Newton, who was at the event serving as a coach through his foundation, ESPN said.
"Some Kids in this generation don't appreciate the fact that Professional players are taking the time out to come out an show love an they have the nerves to act like that," Darius Slay of the Philadelphia Eagles wrote on Twitter.
Added Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back, Leonard Fournette: "Any young athlete watching this video please don't be this kid, Don't miss your chance to learn something from someone who has been their at the highest level in this sport.... STAY HUMBLE."
Owens later issued an apology to Newton in a statement posted via his Twitter account.
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"First & for most [sic] I want to express my deepest apologies to Cam Newton, my entire org, & my coaches for my actions at the 7v7 tournament this past weekend," Owens wrote in part. "I did not intend for it to get as far as it did! First I would like to start off by saying my parents never taught me to [be] disrespectful."
Owen continued, "As a football player I let my competitive side get the best of me & it was a huge miscommunication. It was in the midst of the moment & I realize now how a lot of you took it as disrespect."