National Football League
Favre gives Goodell a prickly dilemma
National Football League

Favre gives Goodell a prickly dilemma

Published Oct. 8, 2010 1:00 a.m. ET

Let’s see, the image-conscious National Football League fined Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil $40,000 for flashing his middle finger at grown men.

What’s the appropriate punishment for a legendary quarterback sexting his johnson to a 25-year-old female sideline reporter?

Roger Goodell’s personal-conduct policy worked wonderfully when he was cracking down on Pacman Jones for making it rain in strip clubs, Big Ben Roethlisberger for trying to make love in the club and Michael Vick for moonlighting as Vick Doggy Dogg.

Now comes the hard part.


The league is investigating the incident. What does the commish do if there’s a kernel of truth to the report that The Old Gunslinger moonlights as The Old Junk Dealer?

Hopefully, that’s my last joke about the situation. The allegations Deadspin posted about Brett Favre on Thursday are serious. If true, it’s a pretty cut-and-dried case of sexual harassment.

What Deadspin alleges Favre did to Jenn Sterger, who in 2008 worked as the Jets’ in-house sideline reporter, makes the Ines Sainz-Jets dustup seem like third-graders playing spin the bottle.

Deadspin obtained MySpace e-mails, cellphone voicemails and pictures that paint a damning portrait of the then-New York quarterback pursuing the young-and-fake-breasted Deanna Favre-lookalike by any means necessary, including pics — allegedly — of the all-time-great’s most private part.

Given an opportunity on Thursday to deny the authenticity of the e-mails, voicemails and pictures at a Vikings news conference, Favre sidestepped the issue by saying he was focused on Minnesota’s “Monday Night Football” showdown with the Jets.

“I’m not getting into that,” Favre responded when asked directly about the Deadspin report. “I’ve got my hands full with the Jets.”

Goodell has no such excuse. He elected himself the NFL’s top cop. He can’t brush this off. Again, if true, this is sexual harassment.

It does not matter that Jenn Sterger’s on-full-display, fake breasts were her only qualification to land a job with the Jets. She should be afforded protection from harassment. Unsolicited e-mails, phone calls and Full Monty pics are quite different from locker-room catcalls and coaches running pass plays in the direction of a provocatively dressed Sideline Barbie.

Goodell must investigate the Favre-Sterger incident and either clear or punish Favre.

As for what the punishment should be? I’m reluctant to offer an opinion. I’m a sinner, and I’m a Favre fan. I’m not foolish enough to climb my big ass up on a moral high horse that would never hold me.

I’ll defer to the judgment of the female journalists who regularly cover male professional athletes. I’ll be very interested to read the opinions of Christine Brennan, Sally Jenkins, Liz Mullen, Ashley Fox, Jemele Hill and others.

Strangely, the initial reaction from the mainstream media to the Favre allegations has been mostly silence.

I wasn’t expecting a Tiger Woods-like apocalypse. But it seemed like most of the media folks I monitor on Twitter —- except Dan Wetzel and Mike Florio — were afraid to touch the Favre situation. I’m not sure why.

Is the difference the late-night car crash and subsequent police report? Maybe.

It was a voicemail message that gave media members the confidence to aggressively condemn Tiger Woods. The alleged Favre voicemails are Deadspin’s smoking gun against Favre. You can argue there’s just one allegation against Favre and 15 directed at Tiger. Common sense says, if the Favre allegations are true, he was running plays out of the same playbook as Tiger. They’re kindred spirits.

Regardless, this story is fascinating. Deadspin alluded to this story two months ago. It magically drops four days before Favre takes on the Jets. Deadspin claims a third party — not Sterger — handed over all the damning supporting evidence.

Did the Jets investigate this in 2008-09 or in 2010 when Deadspin originally made mention of it? Did the Jets hold on to the material and leak it just in time for the big game? Did Sterger’s agent leak the material in hopes of boosting her career? Sterger’s the victim. Why shouldn’t she milk it to her advantage? She owes Favre nothing.

What’s it like in the Favre household this week? We’ve watched Tiger Woods become a shell of his former golfing self after his marriage disintegrated following the exposure of his secret life. Favre put on a tough, unconcerned face Thursday. Will it last?

OK, did someone frame Brett Favre? Is this an elaborate hoax?

If this is a scam, Goodell should tell us. If not, Goodell needs to crack down on his No. 1 moneymaker.


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