Brett Favre's Penalty? Three Minutes' Pay, Happy Retirement
Just figuring this out, because athletes don't live in our world and we don't live in theirs. The NFL fined Brett Favre $50,000 Wednesday and you wonder how much he feels that.
Favre made $16 million this year, or $1 million per game. A game is 60 minutes, meaning he gets nearly $17,000 a minute.
In other words, he was fined for three minutes of work on a game clock.
Brett Favre was fined three minutes' pay Wednesday. That's the fallout of his season-long sexting scandal surrounding Jenn Sterger. At the time in 2008, Favre was the New York Jets quarterback and Sterger was their hostess, paid to look pretty and introduce cheerleaders from the sidelines and stuff like that.
Three minutes, and the New York Daily News reports that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell not only fined Favre, but also sent out a memo to all NFL teams:
"Every member of every club's staff should be able to work in an environment free of harassment or hostility, and one in which every employee is valued, respected and given a full opportunity to contribute to the goals of the club and the NFL."
He also referred to the "serious nature" of the Favre-Sterger matter. Yes, the serious nature led to a fine of three minutes.
All season long, it seemed that Favre had humiliated himself, and would end his career in disgrace. Instead, he will retire Sunday unaffected. Sterger's career as a sexy woman playing off the desires of male sports fans will continue.
The big loser Wednesday was Goodell. He has spent years talking like the big, tough sheriff, but now comes off embarrassingly weak. The Favre scandal became public in October, when Deadspin.com posted the pictures. The website said it paid $12,000 for them.
The NFL conducted an investigation, tried to use computers to determine whether the picture was of Favre. I mean, the league spent months looking at that picture.
And then Goodell fined Favre Wednesday not for sexual harassment or for embarrassing the league, but instead for not cooperating with the investigation.
Goodell said the punishment would have been bigger if he had found a violation of league policies regarding workplace conduct.
I don't know how much of a punishment Favre deserved. I wrote a long time ago that I wasn't inclined to play moral cop between a dirty old quarterback and a bimbo.
And it's true that suspending Favre now, four days before the end of his career, might seem pointless. But if Favre wasn't cooperating, that should have been enough for a suspension a long time ago.
Favre didn't cooperate and, as a result, was fined three minutes.
Who is in charge here?
Goodell has also set out a great defense plan for players being investigated in the future: Don't cooperate.
We've been waiting all year to see if Goodell would have the nerve to hammer away at Favre. But the closer we got to the end of the season, the more it appeared that the plan was to let Favre end his brilliant career before justice.
"My client and I are extremely disappointed, but not surprised, at today's NFL announcement ..." Sterger's lawyer, Joseph Conway, said in a statement. "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.
"To the contrary, 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 ...
"In addition to the offensive messages, there was ample evidence to show that the sexually explicit photographs were part of Favre's inappropriate behavior. Our evidence clearly showed that the photos were sent by Favre."
The truth is, hardly anyone, especially NFL ticket-buyers and NFL TV watchers, has any outrage over this. Moral outrage in general barely exists anymore.
For fans, the whole thing has been entertainment, something to snicker at.
Sexual harassment is very real, but it's also part of the locker room culture, particularly in football.
Sterger's career started when Brent Musburger started drooling over her on TV. That led to attention, and shoots for Maxim and Playboy and a TV show. Nobody ever questioned her qualifications to be in the media because no one really cares.
Her job is to look sexy and Favre's culture is to go after sexy women. Lines have to be drawn, but honestly the whole thing was inevitable, and happens all the time.
I don't know who did what, and don't know what Sterger is after, if anything. We don't even know if she ever felt harassed.
All we know for sure is what Goodell didn't do. He didn't lead. He put a player above the league's law.
A serious issue and a serious leader add up to more than three minutes.
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @gregcouch