Sterger making Favre sympathetic figure
Mark Kriegel is the national columnist for FOXSports.com. He is the author of two New York Times best sellers, Namath: A Biography and Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich, which Sports Illustrated called "the best sports biography of the year."
On Oct. 8, the NFL announced it would investigate the curiously lewd communiques Brett Favre apparently sent Jenn Sterger, a former Jets “hostess.”
On Oct. 10, ESPN reported the probe was on a “fast track.”
Last Saturday, Sterger’s lawyer, Joe Conway — who didn’t return my call Thursday — was quoted on the “very strong likelihood” that his client would agree to be interviewed by NFL security. “I expect that such a meeting will take place late next week at an undisclosed location,” he said.
But here it is, Nov. 5, that week now gone, and the NFL is still waiting on Jenn Sterger. Though her feelings toward Favre seem unambiguous — she did, after all, coin the phrase “creepy douche” in talking about football’s most famous grandfather — she still hasn’t made a decision. In other words, Jenn Sterger is taking longer to make up her mind than Brett Favre.
People have long accused Favre of exploiting the media (almost three weeks into training camp, reports that he was “done” miraculously earned him an extra $3 million, guaranteed). But now I can’t help but wonder if Sterger is an even better manipulator than Favre.
What’s more, her sudden caginess has done something even the Patriots’ Myron Pryor could not. She has made it possible to feel some empathy, if only a little, for Favre.
Look, if Deanna Favre wants to kick his ass for being a faithless husband, fine. And if the folksy folks at Wrangler don't want to keep paying a guy who no longer qualifies as a role model, that’s their business. But Favre stands accused of workplace harassment. The allegation needs to be addressed. And Jenn Sterger is the only one who can.
There are three possibilities:
a) She’s got the goods.
She doesn’t have the goods.
c) She has an agenda.
And based on what’s been coming out, I’m going with c) for now.
I’ve always covered these cases with a prosecutorial inclination, figuring guys are almost always guilty of something. So the obligatory disclaimers are in order. I’m not saying that Jenn Sterger wasn’t a victim of workplace harassment. I’m not saying women with sexualized personas can’t be harassed; perhaps they’re more likely to be harassed.
Just the same, what to make of somebody like Sterger, who went on-air for the Jets with T-shirts vandalized to accentuate her then-ample cleavage? Going back to her days as a Florida State Cowgirl, Sterger demanded notice as a kind of carnal hood ornament. I don’t know if her motives were mercantile or merely narcissistic. But they came together as a kind of career choice. Hence the boob job, and the photo spreads in Maxim and Playboy. For Jenn Sterger, the attention was, quite literally, money.
She wanted to be recognized in an erotic way. And, obviously, Favre did. But again, was it harassment?
According to Deadspin, Sterger kept the texted photographs of his nether regions and his voicemails “on her computer because they were fun to laugh at amongst friends.”
A former fellow Cowgirl told Steppin’ Out magazine that she was with Sterger when the photographic transmissions arrived.
“We just laughed when he did it,” said Allison Torres. “We talked about it like girlfriends talk about that kind of stuff. You have to understand that Brett Favre isn’t the first celebrity that tried to hook up with her.”
Nor, apparently, was Favre the first ballplayer who sent her shots that left little to the imagination.
“I just know they kept texting each other back and forth and that he wanted to hook up,” said Torres. “I wouldn’t doubt she was enjoying the attention from him.”
Really, does this sound like a woman who’s been traumatized in the workplace?
About a year ago, Sterger decided she wanted to be taken more seriously and have a breast reduction. From her Nov. 9, 2009, blog entry: “In an effort to reinvent myself, in a cut throat industry that was becoming more and more competitive the deeper I swam, I made the decision to go against the grain and remove my implants.”
Swimming in grain? With sentences like that, it’s no wonder Sports Illustrated — perhaps the last force for literacy in my business — hired her as a columnist.
“My implants got my foot in the door,” she said later, “but I truly don’t believe that they are the reason I am still around.”
She was 25. Perhaps she thought a breast reduction would turn her into Christiane Amanpour. But now, as a grand dame just weeks from her 27th birthday, she might feel different. Today marks the final broadcast of her show, “The Daily Line,” which Versus canceled because of abysmal ratings.
That’s a tough break for Sterger. But for Favre, it comes as worse news than his twice broken ankle or the 10 stitches he took from Pryor.
Sterger’s manager has said her cooperation could not be bought by Favre. “Her willingness to cooperate with the NFL’s investigation is not for sale,” he told the New York Post.
Sure. But that was before she lost her day job.