Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Details Matter

By now I am sure many of you have heard about the incident with the New York Jets where a very attractive female reporter, Ines Sainz was said to have been harassed by the players and in at least one instance assisted in their shenanigans by a coach or coaches. There have been a bunch of stories written about the incident itself and if that wasn't enough there was the whole Clinton Portis "foot in mouth" moment that also drew a lot of attention.

Both incidents have sparked quite a few debates about what is appropriate or inappropriate when it comes to women in the NFL locker rooms reporting on the sport. But here is something that has been bugging me ever since I saw the first reports of the initial incidents on twitter, it doesn't seem that we really know exactly what happened that day at the Jets facility.

Oh there have been many many reports on what happened. But what did they actually tell us? Maybe the one part of the story that is consistent is that some footballs were thrown to players in Sainz's direction so that they could get a better look. But even that reporting has been muddled as some portray it as the players getting really close to Sainz and perhaps even making contact with her while others say they were just close to her. I will get to Sainz's own account later on which it seems most people have paid the lowest amount of attention to. But for now lets stay focused on the reports.

So maybe the players made contact with her, maybe they didn't. If they did then obviously they not only harassed her but by definition also assaulted her. But what if they didn't make physical contact? What if they on came maybe within arms length or maybe even further? Does that qualify as harassment? Decidedly dumb yes, but is it something you would find highly objectionable just on its face?

Hold that thought.

The part of this story that bugged me the most was that from the get go it was inferred that players verbally harassed Sainz in some kind of a sexual manner. But then nobody ever came out and reported what these players had allegedly said. Here's a sample.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan, one of his assistants and some of the team's players are being probed for unsportsman like conduct against a sexy female reporter after they allegedly pestered her with goofy, on-field antics and locker-room catcalls.

NY Post

Ines Sainz, who works for the Mexican network, said she was uncomfortable Saturday in the Jets' locker room, where a few players let loose with some catcalls as she waited with two male co-workers to interview quarterback Mark Sanchez, who is of Mexican descent.

The AP

Later, in the locker room, Mexico’s hottest sports reporter found herself the object of catcalls.


And once Sainz was in the locker room, the players allegedly ogled her, and some used inappropriate language.


So reportedly there were "cat calls" and or "inappropriate language" directed at Sainz. But you can search high and low and you won't find any reports on what those cat calls or the inappropriate language consisted off. The closest you get is the report that Jets nosetackle Kris Jenkins yelled "This is our locker room!" but that is about it.

I am definitely not saying that the cat calls or inappropriate language didn't happen. I don't know because I wasn't there. But its very curious to me that nobody has come forth with the details of what was said with as big as this story has become.

Now maybe its just me but I actually think this is a big part of the story. Were players trying to humiliate Sainz? Were they trying to flirt with her? Propositioning her? Totally disrespecting her both as a woman and a journalist?

Or for that matter where they even talking to her at all?

Here's the thing, Ines Sainz says she didn't hear anything.

Yep, you heard me right. She said she didn't hear anything.

But don't take my word for her, listen to her in her own words.

Allow me to state, for the record, that the host was a certified asshole to Ms Sainz about her outfit and I don't condone that at all.

But what she said in the interview makes a hell of a lot of difference to me. First and foremost, she wasn't the person who made the complain. Instead some other journalist did. And because the New York Post was the first out of the gate with the story it likely was reported by them and they obviously don't have the best reputation for honesty. Secondly Ms Sainz says she did not feel harassed or hear any cat calls.
But she did say in the interview that she didn't hear everything said about her - and apparently several other members of the media took the interactions much more seriously. She added perhaps they heard something she hadn't.

“I was surprised to wake up on Sunday and have a call from the NFL , saying that they wanted to talk to me about what had happened at the Jets; and I asked… what happened?" Sainz told TV Azteca.

Think about that last line for a moment. She was so unconcerned with whatever happened at the practice just the previous day that she had no clue what the NFL people were talking about when they called her. And by the end of the interview she puts any responsibility for the story being a story at all to her "colleagues" in the media that reported the incident and who heard a bunch of things she evidently didn't.

So what I would love is for those folks who reported the incident to come out and tell everyone what was said. I don't have any tolerance for guys being assholes towards women but at the same time there has to be some evidence that somebody actually WAS being an asshole toward this woman. She doesn't seem to think they were harassing her so its time for the folks who did to stand up and put them on blast.

And if they can't do that then somebody needs to recant. As I said to some well meaning folks on twitter I'm just not going to be moved to outrage if the only thing the players did was catch a few footballs close to her area. I have seen the pictures of what she had on and while it wouldn't justify someone harassing her, if you are a man with any life left in you I would think you would be hard pressed not to at least sneak a few peeks.

But if that is truly all that happened what exactly am I supposed to be outraged about? And for that matter why are there investigations now initiated by the NFL? Was it the smartest thing in the world to throw footballs close by Ms Sainz? Absolutely not. Would I expect anybody to qualify that in and of itself as harassment? Absolutely not.

Especially when the person who was having footballs thrown their way DIDN'T take it as harassment.

I assume that this story will die off pretty soon or at least that's my hope. I say that its my hope because I don't like seeing negative stories about the NFL making the headlines and at this point I don't think there is much else to the story. But if people are going to keep reporting on the story and making the allegation that something inappropriate was said, then in my opinion they should dig deep enough to find out exact quotations. If not this story never should have reached the magnitude that it did even from he very start.


  1. Good take. Keep blogging, Steve. Your thoughtful posts about on-field AND off-field issues are needed in a market oversaturated with the borderline garbage that shows up online courtesy of the big-name media outlets.

  2. Have to ask you as someone whose been there and done that, why the need for reporters in the locker room at all? Male or Female? Is it to catch the ryan leaf moments of tabloid journalism player melt downs? I don't think it is a professional environment to conduct business, but maybe I'm missing something. If the NFL thinks they will control nature good luck with that.

    As far as the on pratice field, sounds like things may have started toward the yellow light areas, and joking around can lead you down that path, see Portis comments for an example. Some leaders probably failed, happens.

    Good luck to the NFL with all the sexual harassment training, but at least protect your players, and yes, sometimes from themselves.

  3. sounds to me like the host was just angry that his wife doesn't look like ines sainz.