The mainstream sports media couldn't avoid the topic forever. Eventually, the story of Brett Favre's penis would have to be addressed.
And as deafening and infuriating as the silence in Bristol and points beyond was, we knew that the only thing more exasperating would be the way Favre honks would handle the story once their rope of silence ran out.
In a story that is evolving into a whole lot more than a clumsy, sophomoric effort to "spend some time" with a very attractive, young female, the Chris Bermans and Chris Mortensens of the world are still using the words "alleged" and "reported" at every turn when discussing the voicemail messages and text message dong shots that Favre sent to Jenn Sterger.
Me, I think the lack of a denial from Favre is enough for us to assume that it's his "lucky dog" in the Deadspin.com video and photos, so I'm rolling with that.
On the heels of the mainstream media's self-imposed (and ultimately, temporary) gag order on the topic of Favre's Cock-a-palooza on Friday, I want to look at the eventual handling of the situation. Rather than digging up video clips of every "allegedly" and "reprotedly" from ESPN's ridiculous Monday Night Countdown crew (a broadcast where ironically Tom Jackson was the voice of reason, basically having to point out to Berman, Keyshawn and the rest of the blockheads that.. HEY, HE HASN'T DENIED ANY OF THIS!), I'll just roll with one amalgam that sums up the ball-washing, ass-kissing, Favre-fatuation -- SI.com's Peter King.
Here are the pertinent excerpts from his blurb on Favre from his Monday Morning Quarterback column on SI.com (with my comments after "SP:"):
Say it ain't so, Brett. That's what the league has to be praying.
SP: Yeah. "The league." And you, and John Madden, and Chris Berman, and Chris Mortensen, and....
Maybe I'm a jaded 53-year-old who's seen a little infidelity in this business over the years, but the voice mails don't bother me much in terms of NFL discipline; what a married man does in his off time is not something I care to police, and I don't believe the NFL should care about it either, unless there is some implied coercion involved, which does not seem to be the case here. Clumsy, yes. Coercion, no.
SP: Oftentimes, I say that you can't compare the "rules" of professional sports to the "rules" of the corporate world, and that's largely true, especially with respect to salary equity, chain of command, and what factions within a business hold the power. From that standpoint, sports franchises are upside down. But that's for the unwritten rules of business. When it comes to the actual laws that we live by in society, it doesn't matter what your company's SIC code is.
If I work for, say, a telecom commpany and I weasel the cell phone number of an attractive female co-worker from a source other than her then I hit her with repeated unwanted messages about getting together, that's harassment. It's also harassment if you work for an NFL team, whether you're the equipment manager, the tax accountant, or the star quarterback. As twisted as chasing those messages with shots of your penis is, it was harassment even before the dong shots were sent.
So because Peter King apparently is desensitized to attempted and/or actual harassment (not to mention marital infidelity), that means it's no big deal. To him, maybe it's not. Hell, to me, maybe it's not. That's not the point. To the letter of the law, it is. I just continue to find it hilarious that Peter King was tweeting about Dez Bryant's dinner tab within about 12 seconds of that story breaking, trying to make some sort of moral statement about frivolous spending (of one's OWN money, no less) in this economy, and yet the anointed face of the league -- Brett Favre, loyal husband, family man -- hitting on Jets' employees is no big deal to him.
Boil it down -- Dez Bryant, rookie wide receiver, buys an expensive dinner for his friends, it's the end of the world. Brett Favre trolls around like some sick, 24 Hour Adult DVD store perv trying to get his Sterger on, and it's "ah, I'm just kind of jaded, I guess." Nice double standard, Pete.
I said this last night on NBC: There shouldn't be a rush to judgment in this case; Favre has never been found guilty of any matter in the league's Personal Conduct Policy in his 19 years in the NFL and should be afforded the presumption of innocence here.
SP: In full-on "Kevin Bacon in Animal House mode" -- remember when Bacon is standing in the middle of the sidewalk during the riots at the end of the film trying to calm down hundreds of maniacal parade goers? "People, please, please...remain calm. ALL IS WELL!" (Completely ignored, he eventually gets trampled.) Maybe next time King goes on vacation, instead of Eric Winston, he can have the old Iraqi Minister of Information do a guest column. Seems to be a better fit.
You shouldn't assume that Favre, if found culpable in the matter, will be suspended, because commissioner Roger Goodell most often does not go the suspension route on a first offense in the conduct policy. Now, he could find this offense particularly troubling and call for a suspension, certainly. But I don't think it's automatic.
SP: If you listen carefully, you can almost hear King crossing his fingers and muttering multiple "Hail Mary's" to himself.
Favre told ESPN last night at the production meeting for the network's Vikings-Jets Monday Night Football game that he looks forward to speaking with Goodell about the issue.
SP: What's he supposed to say? He's dreading it?
Re Sterger, now a co-host of a sports show on Versus: She has no interest in pursuing any sort of sexual harassment claim against Favre or the Jets, I am told. As it relates to her cooperation in this, I was told on Saturday that she would go along with the NFL investigation and be interviewed.
SP: Okay, so according to King's sources, there's no sexual harassment claim coming. Got it. Unless....
On Sunday, she was in seclusion, and now she may be rethinking how to deal with NFL investigators talking to her.
SP: ...unless, she is now thinking of filing a claim. Solid reporting. When sources tell you both sides of a story, and you just report both of them, you're guaranteed to get the story right! Well played, PK!
Sterger probably wishes she had deleted the voice mails, other electronic communication and photos.
SP: What the hell is King basing this on? A conversation with Sterger? No. Go ahead and say it, Peter...YOU wish she had deleted the voice mails, other electronic communication and photos, because your boy is circling the drain. YOU wish, she hasn't said anything of the sort. And let's wait and see where her fame profile winds up after this whole thing plays out before we decide how remorseful Sterger is over keeping the photos. Just sayin'.
I don't believe she had anything to do with Deadspin.com's acquisition of the photos and voice mails, by the way.
SP: Yeah, she may not have given them to Deadspin, but she gave them to somebody who did.
As for Favre, if he's disciplined by the league, he'll have 10 days to decide whether to appeal the commissioner's decision. During those 10 days, he'd be able to continue playing.
SP: And you and Berman and Madden can hold daily prayer sessions.
Not exactly the kind of headline you thought you'd see in the middle of the NFL season, involving the former SI "Sportsman of the Year.''
SP: Past SI "Sportsman of the Year" winners include Michael Phelps (2008, dope smoker), Tiger Woods (2000, 1996, situation well documented), Mark McGwire (1998, steroid user), Sammy Sosa (1998, steroid user), Michael Jordan (1991, not exactly a saint), Pete Rose (1975, gambler, tax evader). It's not exactly a guarantee of sainthood, Pete.
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In the end, ESPN.com's headline on their front page for the story about Monday night's game between Favre's Vikings and the Jets, a 29-20 Jet win, was a fairly symbolic representation of the Favre coverage lately -- "Jets Overcome Favre's 2nd Half Magic". No mention of Favre's wretched 31 yards passing in the first half putting the Vikings in a position to require the aforementioned "magic."
Ironically, a better metaphor for Favre and his evolving fall from grace occurred at the end of the game -- driving down the field for a game-winning score, Favre threw a pick-six right to Jets defensive back Dwight Lowery, sealing the deal for New York and sending Minnesota home with a 1-3 record. The sight was all too familiar, Favre frantically putting his team on his back only to pulverize the souls of everyone in his corner in spectacular fashion with a cataclysmic mistake.
Favre's dick-six to Jenn Sterger has Peter King, Chris Berman and the rest of Team Favre knowing exactly how the Vikings feel.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.