After an "investigation" into the Jenn Sterger affair, the NFL has ordered Brett Favre to pay a $50,000 fine. "Today's decision is an affront to all females," said Sterger's lawyer. "The NFL remains the good old boys' league."
No one pretends that this is any sort of real punishment for Favre, who stands accused of violating the NFL's code of conduct for sexual advances made via voicemail and, allegedly, sexting a photo of his penis to Sterger, who was working as a sideline reporter for the Jets at the time. The statement by the NFL said,
"Favre was not candid in several respects during the investigation, resulting in a longer review and additional negative public attention for Favre, Sterger and the NFL. On the basis of the evidence currently available to him, Commissioner [Roger] Goodell could not conclude that Favre violated league policies relating to workplace conduct...The forensic analysis could not establish that Favre sent the objectionable photographs to Sterger."
Sterger's lawyer said, "While I am not privy to how Mr. Goodell reached such a finding, we strongly disagree with his conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to support a violation of the policy...Our evidence and the personal testimony of Ms. Sterger clearly showed a pattern of lewd and offensive behavior by Mr. Favre that lasted all of the 2008 season."
Over at our brother site Deadspin, which first broke news of the advances, and then published the cockshots, A.J. wrote, "I say this reluctantly, but Sterger's attorney, Joseph Conway, is absolutely right that Favre is getting preferential treatment here. This isn't a huge miscarriage of justice or anything along those lines, but it's been obvious to everyone following this that it was not in the NFL's best interest to fast-track this during the season and possibly sully Favre's victory lap towards retirement."
He also argues that Sterger didn't necessarily feel harassed, and that it's a reality that NFL athletes want to have sex with as many women as possible, and many women want to have sex with them. That may be true, but this is not about whether Sterger felt harassed, or whether other girls would have jumped on the chance to take Favre up on his repeatedly rejected offers. It's about the fact that there's now fairly incontrovertible proof that it doesn't matter if you break the rules or not, if you're a famous athlete you can pretty much write your own rules.