Mike Kueber's Blog

November 12, 2010

Brett Favre and Jenn Sterger – is there a story here?

A few weeks ago, I was surfing the internet when I stumbled across a Brett Favre story on a website called Deadspin.  The story was about NY Jet QB Brett Favre hitting on NY Jet Gameday Host Jenn Sterger.  Because Favre hadn’t been a Jet for almost two years, I assumed the story was outdated internet garbage.  A few days later, when the Deadspin story hit the national media, I learned that the reporting of the story was brand new and in Brett’s world, the shit was about to hit the fan. 

After several weeks of media coverage, including today’s report that she finally spoke with the NFL yesterday after weeks of failing to cooperate, I still wonder whether there is a legitimate story here.  Here is my thinking:

  1. Financial demands.  There are multiple reports that Sterger eventually decided to talk to the NFL only after Favre rejected her financial demands.  Her manager denies this.  If the reports are true, this stinks.   A few months ago, an NBC employee was sentenced to prison for  demanding money from David Letterman in return for keeping quiet about Letterman’s infidelity.  I realize that legal distinctions can be drawn between the two cases, but they smell the same.
  2. Unwelcome sexual advances.  The media continually refers to inappropriate, lewd, or suggestive voicemails, but almost never specify what was in the voicemails.  How about, ‘Text me” or “Love to see you tonight.”  There’s nothing wrong with the voicemails other than the fact that Brett was a married man, and there’s no indication that Sterger ever told Brett that his advances were unwelcome.  Certainly, the NFL is not going to police its athletes for attempting to engage in extra-marital activities.
  3. Sexual harassment.  Some argue that Favre’s sexual advances toward Sterger are actionable because they were both NY Jet employees and because Favre was in a dominant role as the team’s QB.  This argument doesn’t fly because there is no indication that Sterger claimed to feel threatened by the Jets or Favre.  In fact, there are reports that she kept the voicemails and photos “to apparently share and laugh about with friends.”  There are also reports that she jokes about the number of cock shots she has received from famous athletes wanting to hook up.  She does not present herself as a traumatized, sheltered sideline reporter like Erin Andrews.
  4. NFL’s personal-conduct policy.  The media continually refers to the personal-conduct policy, but fails to explain what that policy is.  It is not some generic, ambiguous Golden Rule, like “do onto others like you would have them do onto you.”  Rather, it is specific.  It specifically prohibits the following:

“It will be considered conduct detrimental for Covered Persons to engage in (or to aid, abet or conspire to engage in or to incite) violent and/or criminal activity. Examples of such Prohibited Conduct include, without limitation: any crime involving the use or threat of physical violence to a person or persons; the use of a deadly weapon in the commission of a crime; possession or distribution of a weapon in violation of state or federal law; involvement in “hate crimes” or crimes of domestic violence; theft, larceny or other property crimes; sex offenses; racketeering; money laundering; obstruction of justice; resisting arrest; fraud; and violent or threatening conduct. Additionally, Covered Persons shall not by their words or conduct suggest that criminal activity is acceptable or condoned within the NFL.”

The smoking guns in this case are the penis photos.  Favre admits to leaving the voicemails, but denies sending the penis photos.  But even if he did, I don’t see how that violates the NFL’s personal-conduct policy.  And if there is no personal-conduct issue, there is no story that deserves to be covered by the respectable media.