Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Favre - The Blitz He Never Expected

It gives this Chicago sports fan no greater pleasure than to watch Brett Favre lose, period. In the Monday night game he threw for his 500th career TD. He continued to set the NFL record for QB interceptions, as the Jets intercepted him on the final drive.  Game - Set- Match.

While I can barely stand to watch any New York Sports team win, this one was, well, satisfying.  Whether Favre is playing for the Pack or the Vikes, anything or anyone to blow through his sense of entitlement is fine by me.  This week our Bears had lady luck (Cutler out with a concussion) on their side,  playing the hapless Panthers.   Favre, meanwhile,  had bad luck, with his lady-on-the-side "distractions."

Serves him right.  Serves the NFL right. Serves the NY Jets right.  You accept the good with the bad.  And in this case, it's only getting worse for all three.  Sports media can't ignore this now.

I know there are far greater stories to cover  on Chicago Sports:

1.  Bears win big vs. Panthers:  23 - 6 (but just wait till we're really challenged again).
2.  Peppers' block and INT. is a testament to Chicago-style grit and character
2.  Bears' O line shows up to give Forte and Taylor a chance to show who "they really are."
3.  Collins' 4 interceptions is just a repeat performance of Bears' QBs' (Kyle, where are you?)
4. Why was Matt Leinart not signed as a back-up QB? Wake up Angelo.  Can Caleb really be our back-up?
5.  Packers once again fail to close out a game, outscored 42-14 this season in 4th quarter.  No complaints here.  
6.  Hjalmarsson's 2 game suspension.  Boy, do I miss Ladd, Versteeg, Big Buff, etc.  It's gonna take me some time to adjust.
7.  For all the ice time Duncan Keith is having, one wonders how many teeth will be left by January.
8.  Noah to Rose - these guys are beginning to resemble previous Bulls teams, where passing the ball meant scoring points.  Can't wait for more.  

But the real story this week is Favre and his alleged sexual harassment, a civil rights violation,  while QB for the NY Jets in 2008.  How is it that our self-absorbed  athletes just don't get it?  Are they not living in the 21st century, with every word and move flashed over cyberspace?  How is it that one can send voice-mails, emails, text messages, and even "sexting", without believing these messages won't be locked in a vault 6 feet under?   Does making over $700 million/ year lead Tiger to believe he is untouchable?  Really?  Yeah - they don't get it.

Farve's response to reporters' questions on these alleged activities towards Jenn Sterger, hired by the Jets in 2008 as a Game Day Reporter:  "I'm not getting into that..I've got my hands full with the Jets..." Well Mr. Wrangler, you got that one right, only not on the game, buddy.   It's the Jets' organization which is as culpable as you, Brett dear.

So today, I thank Bob Ley and  Outside the Lines ESPN for doing the right story at the right time - much appreciation to all of them:  Bomani Jones, Page 2 ("... The new media stumbled across an old media story, and......inadvertently it came across as a sexual harassment issue"), and then Robert Thompson, Syracuse Professor of Television ("...what amazes me most that, as late as 2008 somebody was still sending these kinds of pictures over the that time everybody should  know that if they are a public figure...anything they send over their cell phones...are potentially going to be placed on TMZ...").

 Also, we thank Jane McManus, ESPN New ( "I've never had, really....the issue ((of harassment)) covering the Jets"...."but...Jenn Sterger was hired ....partly because of her looks. I mean, it's just a fact. THAT should not have any effect on whether or not... harassing her is a problem. It's a problem no matter why she was hired"....."The media has difficulty addressing this....The 'distraction' has  become such a euphemism"...."Favre, instead of being asked whether or not .....about what he has done, .....what he has been accused of..., it's always a question about whether or not this has become a distraction,"  and Sal Paolantonio, ESPN reporter, while discussing  his experience in the Vikings' locker room after the game reported "...clearly there was a lot of tension in the room... I talked to a lot of players... (after a meeting with Favre)"...."you can see on their faces....basically saying...'I didn't sign up for this...being 1-3,.... half the NY media in the locker room.... with questions that happened on another team 2 years ago...'."

Bob Ley also hosted Lester Munson, ESPN Legal Analyst.  (" It would absolutely still constitute harassment.... the law is very clear. Her claim would first be against the Jets for condoning and developing a hostile work environment"...."she has ....'standing' to make that claim and collect damages.")  and finally Chris Mortensen (..."The NFL doesn't want this hanging over them all season, but guess what, it's going to hang over them this month"...."Breast Cancer Awareness Month....there are so many aspects of this story that are so awkward,....Deanna Favre.... has had this personal cancer battle..").

Ultimately, Tommy Jackson said it all on Monday Night Countdown, " we haven't heard a denial's strange....we sit up here and we talk about issues that we never  thought we'd have to discuss when we cover the NFL..."  But as Colin said this morning on his ESPN radio show, this activity remains "alleged," and so I'll keep that in mind. But let me tell you where my own mind takes me now:  to a not-to-distant sports news story regarding inaction and ineptitude on the part of the Jets Organization, of how they treat women, and what ultimately brings in the bucks.

November 20, 2007:  In the infamous "Gate D" incident, when Jets fans hooted, hollered and groped at the few women in the area,  the Jets response was not one of holding those responsible, nor apologizing to women and the families who purposely kept their kids away from the area. Instead, the security detail did nothing, other than threaten a reporter who was covering the incident with arrest, while taking away his recorded interview of 2 security men. 

August 2008:  Jets hire Favre as QB and  Jenn Sterger as their Game Day Host for the 2008 season.  Game. Set. Match.  Whatever the current investigation turns up, why would Jets GM, Mike Tannenbaum, be in the locker room with Favre after Monday night's game, embracing each other?  If you're going to deliver your defense on a silver platter to the prosecution, this type of interaction truly represents more "head-in-the-sand" ignorance.  This behavior between the 2 men, in legal terms, can be seen as prejudicial information AGAINST their case.  Nice work guys.  Dumb and dumber.  Are your eyes seeing dollar signs, although not the kind you're both used to? 

Ultimately, Sal reported that "the league is very image conscious...and there is wide latitude in the personal conduct policy..." of Commissioner Roger Godell, who sees his role as one of protecting the image of the NFL, a la Roethlisberger (Godell has suspended 19 players under his term).  I'd say, Roger,  you may need more than just sanctions and suspensions, even beyond the ex-FBI agents working on your current nightmare.  How ARE you evading all the foot traffic and media blitz at 280 Park Ave. these days? 

Well, historically the public court of opinion will try and convict Ms. Sterger as the "aggressor."   Women, in whatever role they may have, especially in male-dominated sports, rarely have a chance.  Can you recall how Lisa Olson, Boston Herald Sports reporter in 1990, was mugged and harassed by New England Patriot Football players, by merely doing her job?  Publicly scorned and humiliated.   And the response by the Patriots' ownership?  Her fault, she asked for it, by being in the locker room, sports is no place for a woman.

We cannot forget Paola Boivin, 1985, in the St. Louis Cardinals locker room after a game with the Dodgers.  Jock-strap thrown at her, bullied, cornered, and her falling to the floor.  Her fault, they said,  baseball is no place for a woman.  What about Katelyn Faber, the 19 yr. old young woman, entangled with Kobe Bryant, leaving her with physical injury and vaginal trauma in Colorado?  While Kobe issued an apology, and admitted to a "sexual encounter,"  her statements and actions were legally considered "inconsistent."  (In my field of trauma/ PTSD treatment, these types of "inconsistencies" can be the brain's normal response to an abnormal experience.)  So, Kobe buys his wife, Vanessa,  a $4 Million diamond ring.  Game. Set. Match.

Have you noticed how Sports' norms and behaviors are represented in the political culture also?  Power, money, and influence.  That's all one needs.  Newt tells his first wife, Marianne Ginther, that he had drawn up papers for divorce, while she was lying in a hospital bed recovering from cancer surgery.  Nice work Newt.  Great Contract for America.  Senator John Edwards stepping out on his wife, Elizabeth, no less, a cancer survivor also.  Damn these women who get sick and rack up the hospital bills. 

Senator Jim Gibbons from Nevada,  Attorney General Elliot Spitzer (caught by his own zealous wire-tapping charade), President Bill Clinton, Governor Mark Sanford (how was that hike in the woods, Mark?), and lest we never forget Anita Hill v. Clarence Thomas?  Arlen Specter, you owe her an apology, but we know it will never come. And here I thought the Pennsylvania electorate cared about their family values - but oh yeah, Big Ben is back, so all is forgotten and forgiven.  He's just a guy, you know.  Boys will be boys.

And that's what it is about:  Grown men whose brains are like boys, under-development of their consequential thinking, and inability to manage impulses.  In my field, we call that "lacking impulse control."  I doubt that using motivational interviewing techniques, for what may be considered as an addictive behavior (alcohol, vicodin, sex, gambling) would even come close to addressing their narcissist personalities.

 Now let me be very clear:  Kudos to all the women  associated with the men written about above.  No one should judge the decisions women make for their lives or their childrens' lives. What works for one may not work for the other.  It's not up to us to judge their actions or responses.We call that choice (so long as there is no present danger to self or others). And finally, kudos to all women fighting cancer. This is your month, and you deserve all the recognition and support we can provide. Always. 

Robin Roberts, Sarah Kustok, Gail Fischer, Melissa Isaacson (my sister's friend), Bonnie Bernstein, Linda Cohn, and all the other women in sports journalism:  you are my role models (Charles, sports figures are role models).  You can blitz Favre, and guys like him, every moment you want.    Go after the true story of why he's taking the next 2 weeks off.  Elbow injuries?  Right.  The court of public opinion has a few more women around these days.  Blitz we will, along with every defensive line that the Vikes will face for the remainder of the season.  Now, Brett, you should know what to expect.  Every day, and not just on Sundays.

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