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This afternoon the NFL announced that Vikings quarterback Brett Favre has been fined $50,000 for "failure to cooperate" with a league investigation into his alleged sexual harassment of former Jets game day hostess Jenn Sterger. League commissioner Roger Goodell decided that the evidence presented to him wasn't sufficient to accuse Favre of violating the league's personal conduct policy, but that a fine was in order because Favre was "not candid in several respects during the investigation."
It's been nearly three months since the league first announced it was investigating "Sextgate," and today's report claims the delayed ruling is the result of a number of factors, including time spent retrieving phone records and attempts to interview involved parties, including Favre and Sterger. Many find the timing of the league's ruling to be suspect. With his streak of consecutive starts already broken, his status for the final game of the year unknown and his annual retirement announcement looking more and more final each day, Favre is halfway out the door without having paid for his indiscretions in any real way.
There's no shortage of opinions on the matter here at espnW ...
Amanda Rykoff: Slap on the wrist
The NFL's Brett Favre decision is completely bogus. First, it should not have taken commissioner Roger Goodell three full weeks to determine that Favre did not cooperate fully with the investigation. Hell, anybody who's been watching the story with even half an eye open knew that Favre wasn't being open and candid about it. Why would he? He had everything to lose and absolutely nothing to gain by cooperating.
Second, the NFL's eventual ruling confirms why the first issue is so significant. By dragging his heels and not cooperating, Favre received what can generously be described as a slap on the wrist. A $50,000 fine for impeding an investigation? CNBC's Darren Rovell had the tweet of the day when he said "Brett Favre makes $11,373 per minute of every game. That means he's only giving up 4 1/2 MINUTES OF PAY for Sterger fine."
Finally, and most significantly, the league's delayed action and minimal fine reinforce the league's "all hat, no cattle" approach to sexual harassment in the NFL workplace (as my colleague Jane McManus so ably pointed out earlier today). The NFL talks a big game and sends out the memos to the teams, but when it comes down to it, it's all about protecting the stars.
Jane McManus: Gray area
The NFL wants it both ways: Brett Favre is fined and found not guilty. And what's the fine for? Basically obstruction, which the NFL said kept the case in the spotlight longer and made the league look bad. Even though the NFL took another three weeks to announce findings once the investigation was complete.
In shrewd financial terms, Favre saved himself over $600,000 by not cooperating, if it prevented commissioner Roger Goodell from gathering facts to justify an unpaid, one-game suspension.
It's hard to know what the facts are, because Jenn Sterger has not spoken publicly about what happened, which leaves a large gray area. If she was advised to keep it quiet that the star quarterback was hitting on her, it's the same advice young women have been getting since they cracked open the door to the workplace.
Perhaps Sterger will file suit in a court of law, where a judge might not be so starstruck.
After the nondecision here, the league sent out another memo on sexual harassment. As much as the NFL wants to come out against harassment, it can't seem to actually find it anywhere.
Which is ultimately a much louder message.
Sarah Spain: It's about time
The bottom line is this: If Brett Favre truly harassed Jenn Sterger and his advances were unwanted and unreciprocated, then a measly $50,000 fine doesn't cut it. Only Favre and Sterger know what really happened, but I'd bet the situation wasn't nearly as one-sided as she purports it to be. I just don't see how Favre could ask her out, get denied and decide the next logical step would be to text her the contents of his Wranglers. There's a disconnect there and I'd imagine some gaps in the findings resulted in the ruling of insufficient evidence. Whatever the league decided -- fine, suspension, no discipline whatsoever -- it should have acted on it a long time ago. Waiting until the Vikings' last game of the year, when Favre's retirement presser has been all but scheduled, reveals an unfair and inappropriate bias to ol' No. 4 and sets a dangerous precedent for future cases.
Melissa Jacobs: Blown out of proportion
Shame on you, websites that make your predatory living by floating out "scandals" such as this (and last week's Rex Ryan foot fetish) that don't get ignored after a day or filtered out simply because a big name is attached. An athlete hits on a woman the Jets opt to trot around in essentially a bra and he notices. Big frickin' deal. If the so-called sleazy perv was named Joe Webb no one would care. Just another victimless "crime" blown out of proportion. Well, victimless, except for Deanna Favre.
Adena Andrews: Something's fishy
Sexual harassment has no place in the NFL. No really, it doesn't. In fact, it doesn't even exist in the league. That's what the current ruling on Brett Favre says to the world.
Whatever cockamamie investigation the NFL did into the matter, what it came up with is essentially too little, too late. A $50,000 fine weeks after the incident made headlines, for not cooperating, totally overlooks the real issue at hand. Favre allegedly hit on Jenn Sterger as she was just trying to do her job. His multiple advances in the face of her unresponsiveness equal sexual harassment in my book. And should in the NFL's book, too.
How are women supposed to feel comfortable working for the NFL and its teams knowing men will receive just a slap on the wrist for what is a fireable offense in most organizations?
Something smells fishy about this ruling, and it ain't Favre's dirty skull cap.