Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Masseuses Sack Brett Favre, New York Jets with Sexual Harassment Suit

Not even 48 hours after Brett Favre finished a tumultuous 2010 season which saw his NFL-record consecutive games streak snap at 297, the future Hall of Famer has been hit with yet another lawsuit. This suit – filed by Christina Scavo and Shannon O’Toole – is a sexual harassment charge against the quarterback, as well as the New York Jets and a massage coordinator for the Jets, when the massage therapists claimed they lost their part-time jobs while working for the Jets during Favre’s lone season with New York back in 2008. The lawsuit is primarily targeted towards Favre who, allegedly, sent sexually subjective text messages to them during their employment with the team, including one in which he wanted an orgy with the two accusers and a third unnamed therapist.

For Favre, the charges against him are nothing new. In fact, he already dealt with something like this earlier this past season. Last October, Jenn Sterger – a former game show hostess for the Jets – claimed Favre sent her sexually explicit text messages and photos while both were employed by the team. Through her manager, Sterger stated that she didn't “want a quick resolution, but the proper resolution” as the investigation took place. It certainly wasn't quick, but it wasn't what Sterger wanted, either. Favre was ultimately fined $50,000 for “failure to cooperate” with said investigation, and the case was eventually closed without further consequence. Sounds like a hefty punishment, until you consider that Favre earned $16 million in 2010, and that it takes all of 3 minutes in a football game – that’s right, 3 minutes – for Favre to pay off the fine. His athletic achievements are undoubtedly unparalleled, but now, it is Favre's questionable character taking a hit as this latest scandal unfolds.

However, this suit is as much of a black eye, if not bigger, for the New York Jets. This past season, they have made just as many headlines for on- and off-field controversies as they have for their run to the playoffs. From the Ines Sainz saga, to strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi tripping an opposing player, to the foot fetish between head coach Rex Ryan and his wife made public, the Jets have been a colossal media circus the past several months. The only thing keeping them relevant, aside from being in New York, is their 11-5 record in the superior AFC and Ryan's unabashed confidence that they'll beat the Indianapolis Colts this Saturday in their opening round playoff game. But even at that, it doesn't excuse the Jets' ostentatious behavior and their view that all attention is good attention. If they can't start regulating their m.o. in a professional manner, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell may have to drop the hammer harder on them than any other team in the league.

Whether this is just a knee-jerk reaction to attack Favre's or the Jets' credibility is beyond me. After all, would these two females go through all this much trouble if Favre were just another run of the mill player with a fraction of his salary? Probably not. At best, the case would probably get settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, and all parties involved would go about their lives like it never even happened. The suit could also be viewed as yet another timely distraction for the Jets to handle heading into their rematch of the AFC championship game last January. The Jets released a statement on the issue Tuesday, saying that the lawsuit is “completely without merit” because neither massage therapist reported the alleged misconduct by Favre during or after their tenure with the team. However, don't get me wrong. I'm not a misogynist. I understand how long females have come with their involvement in the business side of sports. For that, I commend them for sticking with their occupation in a male-dominated profession. And if these two women genuinely felt discriminated by the team, then they have every right to file a lawsuit and get compensated for their loss, should they win.

But whatever happens, I expect the verdict of this outcome to be far from stiff.

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