NFL Fines Brett Favre Over 'Sexting' Investigation
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.
The National Football League has decided not to suspend quarterback Brett Favre over allegations that he sent inappropriate messages and explicit photos to a female employee of the New York Jets.
Favre is being fined $50,000 by the NFL. That fine is for not fully cooperating with the investigation.
Here to talk about Favre and the investigation is NPR's Mike Pesca.
MIKE PESCA: Hello.
SIEGEL: And remind us first what the NFL was investigating.
PESCA: Well, it was alleged that Brett Favre sent sexually explicit photographs to Jenn Sterger, who was a - she was a sideline reporter, but she was an independent journalist. She worked for the Jets and put together video pieces for them. And in addition to these sexually explicit photographs, which were said to be portions of Brett Favre's own anatomy, he left some voice messages.
The NFL and its investigation - and I'll read from what they concluded - on the basis of the evidence currently available, Commissioner Roger Goodell could not conclude that Favre violated league policies relating to workplace conduct. The analysis could not establish that Favre sent objectionable photographs to Sterger.
So because they couldn't confirm that the photographs were sent by Favre, they couldn't punish Favre or fine Favre. And the fine that did come down was only because Favre wasn't cooperating with the investigation.
SIEGEL: So is that case closed, or is there some chance that Jenn Sterger might now file a lawsuit?
PESCA: Yeah. It's closed from the NFL and the Jets and Brett Favre's perspective. Favre no longer plays for the Jets. And that's actually a salient point.
I talked to a couple of legal experts and in particular one plaintiff's lawyer named Jack Tuckner, who represents women who bring sexual harassment suits. And he said that Jenn Sterger, if she wanted to bring a sexual harassment suit, has a few things working against her. The statute of limitations has run out from a federal perspective. New Jersey state law - that's where the New York Jets are based, in New Jersey - it has a longer statute of limitations.
But the Jets say that Jenn Sterger was an independent contractor, which works against her. And really, no one has alleged that the Jets did anything retaliatory because Jenn Sterger brought these charges. Brett Favre wasn't her direct supervisor. They could argue perhaps that, you know, he was in a higher position of authority, but she would have to prove that she was somehow negatively impacted and that seems a heavy lift.
Now, this - first of all, it doesn't mean that Jenn Sterger wants to bring a suit, and her camp has always said they just want Brett Favre to be punished. I'm sure that they're not satisfied with what the NFL has ruled, but also Jenn Sterger might not want to bring a suit and it's also - even if she does bring a suit, it might not work, but the threat of it maybe could lead to some remuneration.
SIEGEL: Now, the league's $50,000 fine of Favre isn't the only thing that's gone wrong for him this year. He's had a pretty bad season and...
SIEGEL: ...his team, the Minnesota Vikings, have had gone from one disappointment to another.
PESCA: Right. And this was a year after they almost made the Super Bowl. They're six and nine this year. And in two of these Vikings' six victories, Favre didn't even play a role.
I would argue no one has hurt their team in the NFL more than Brett Favre. He has 11 interceptions against - he has - sorry - 19 interceptions against 11 touchdowns. He's really had an awful year. And when Favre - because he hems and haws about playing and he gets into this scandal - when he's not good on the field, I think a lot of the public goodwill that he normally enjoys erodes. So it's really been a terrible year, and Favre swears it's going to be his last. But you could write that in the melting snow.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SIEGEL: And for those unfamiliar with his story, in the past, he was great. He was one of the great quarterbacks of all time.
PESCA: He's going to make the Hall of Fame but not based on this year.
SIEGEL: No. Thanks, Mike.
PESCA: You're welcome.
SIEGEL: NPR's Mike Pesca speaking to us from New York.
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