|espnW.com: News & Opinion|
Is Jenn Sterger owed an apology?
That thought had to cross a lot of people's minds as they watched part one of Sterger's interview with "Good Morning America" on Tuesday -- her first public comments since the news broke six months ago that Brett Favre allegedly sent her unwanted, illicit photos via text message and voicemails while she was a TV host for the New York Jets in 2008.
Sterger came off as credible in her interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulous, and, if her explanation of what happened regarding Favre is accurate, the $50,000 fine Favre received from the NFL was a bigger gift than the one Favre gave Michael Strahan.
During her interview, Sterger compared Favre to "that guy in the bar who just could not get the hint." Plenty of women have been in that situation before. And in a lot of cases, the unwanted interaction ends with no hurt feelings on either side.
For Sterger, it wasn't that way.
She explained to GMA that she never gave Favre her cell phone number (in fact, it took her a while to realize who was sending her text messages and photos), and that she has never met Favre or asked him to pay her for her silence. As for how the pictures and texts were made public, Sterger admitted to confiding in Deadspin editor A.J. Daulerio about Favre's behavior. Daulerio later paid a third party for the photos and voicemails and published them on his website, but Sterger insisted the only people she shared the information with were her confidantes.
Or, at least, she thought they were.
What was painfully clear from the GMA interview is that this scandal still isn't over for Sterger. It might never be. Favre retired after a disastrous 2010 season and, while he certainly has his detractors, Favre largely remains an untouchable legend in the minds of most fans. Favre will have his millions, and, even if he stays a recluse, he'll own the most significant passing records in NFL history.
But where does Sterger go from here?
She can't resume her television career, because who would take her seriously now? Her unofficial title is "The woman whom Brett Favre sent a picture of his you-know-what."
Inevitably, whenever a famous athlete is accused of impropriety with a woman, two outcomes are essentially guaranteed: One, a large sector of people will assume the only reason the accusations are coming to light is because she's a bitter gold digger. And two, his life returns to normal, but hers doesn't necessarily.
If women only accuse athletes of wrongdoing because of retaliation or a payday, how come we rarely see either?
Let's go through the list. Whatever happened to Desiree Washington, who sent Mike Tyson to prison for rape? If these women are craving attention, why did the woman who accused Ben Roethlisberger of sexually assaulting her in a nightclub bathroom last year reportedly drop out of school and basically go into hiding?
Where, then, is Kobe Bryant's accuser with a tell-all book?
Charges were never filed against Roethlisberger, although there is a civil lawsuit pending against him stemming from an alleged sexual assault in 2008. And yes, the rape charges against Bryant were tossed after his accuser refused to participate in the trial.
Sterger's situation doesn't compare to those women's experiences, because Favre was never accused of physically violating her. But she was subjected to the same intense character assassination that those other women endured. And while it did take time for Bryant and Roethlisberger to restore their reputations -- and in no way am I saying they shouldn't have been given that opportunity -- ultimately what they faced was never as difficult as what their accusers did.
That's why I feel some sympathy for Sterger, and I also can't fault her for telling her side of the story, even if it means Favre's name is back in the headlines again.
I'm sure some people watched Sterger's interview and believe she got what she deserved. But I watched it and wondered why Favre never did.
Jemele Hill can be reached at email@example.com.