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Tuesday, October 12, 2010
 
Favre, Wrangler, and athletes behaving badly

Michael links to Darren Rovel's column yesterday arguing why Brett Favre's Wrangler ads are still running in the face of the current investigation into his behavior towards a Jets employee when he played for New York two years ago. I am not a Favre fan (and I am really not a fan of fawning media). I really don't care whether Wrangler drops him or not, nor would I be surprised if it doesn't drop him, since athletes have to really misbehave before sponsors begin bailing.

I want to push on the following point, where Rovell says: "But you don’t have evidence of adultery and no crime was committed." This, Rovell argues, distinguishes Favre from Kobe Bryant (charged with a crime) and Tiger Woods ("adultery to the hilt," in Rovell's words).


First, by dismissing what Favre allegedly did as "no crime," he overlooks the seriousness of these actions. Assuming Jenn Sterger was unwilling, this is flat-out sexual harassment. Which, while not criminal, is unlawful conduct and a breach of serious federal civil rights rules. Rovell makes the same mistake that I argue David Stern made in the wake of the Isaiah Thomas sexual-harassment verdict--simply writing-off all non-criminal misconduct as not serious and not worthy of league (or sponsor) action. But some social rules are enforced through criminal law and some through civil law; the use of the latter does not necessarily make that rule less important or the breach of that rule less problematic. In fact, I would argue that a player sexually harassing a team employee is more of a problem, and reflects worse on Favre, than getting into a bar fight or being drunk in public (both of which are crimes).


Second, let's be clear about the allegations against Favre. He allegedly propositioned a woman, begged her multiple times to come to his hotel room, and sent her (presumably unwanted) photos of his genitals. And it sounds like the only reason he did not have sex with Sterger is because Sterger was unwilling. I have to say, while technically not adultery, I probably would not still be married if I did that. And I doubt my wife would accept "oh, but there's no evidence of adultery" as an excuse. Rovell draws a line between adultery (Woods) and this non-adultery. But completing the act of cheating on your spouse is not dramatically worse (from a moral or "family man" standpoint) than attempting to cheat on your spouse and failing only because your target was unwilling. Mind you, I don't actually view adultery as an offense against society that warrants league/team punishment or sponsor abandonment. But if you believe that sponsors were justified in dropping Woods, the argument that Favre "never actually had sex with someone other than his wife" does not work as a justification for treating Favre differently (again, assuming the allegations are true).





8 Comments:

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Blogger keshav -- 10/13/2010 10:41 AM  


I agree with the argument that Favre has crossed over into the area of sexual harassment, however Rovell does make a valid argument.

His argument is valid simply because he is making the argument and there are others who will make the same argument. From a sponsors perspective the simple fact that an argument is being made not to drop Favre means that there are individuals (most likely in Wranglers customer base) that agree with Rovell and will not mind Favre continuing to appear in their ads.

Whether Favre committed a crime or infringed on her civil rights does not matter to Wrangler. The only thing that will influence their decision to drop Favre or keep him is the public opinion of the act(s) committed. And based on the Rovell blog posting the public is split and thus there is not enough pressure for Wrangler to drop a figure who is recognized nationally and that they have been able to develop a successful campaign around.

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Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/13/2010 11:15 PM  


"Assuming Jenn Sterger was unwilling"--hmmmm. He got her phone number how?

Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/14/2010 11:23 AM  


Supposedly from another Jets employee. Plus, even if she gave him the number, that is *NOT* consent to receive naked photos.

Blogger Howard Wasserman -- 10/15/2010 5:32 AM  


Frankly, sounds to me like an academic (Howard) rushing to judgment without all the facts. Oh, don't get me wrong: Favre is blame-worthy here of misconduct and the NFL is investigating. However, your commentary is way over the top without knowing the facts and is typical Howard Wasserman-you never seem to let someone else's misgivings fail to provide an opportunity for your own self-promotion and to try to make a name for yourself.*

*Disclaimer: in all fairness, Favre is on my fantasy team.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/15/2010 7:56 AM  


Anonymous 7:56:

First, I at least have the courage to put my name on my views, rather than hiding behind anonymity. Second, I do it without engaging in personal attacks. Third, what does my profession have to do with anything?

Third, how, exactly, have I rushed to judgment? What facts have I asserted as true that are not true that I do not know. If you take the time to actually read the post, I said, repeatedly, that we are talking about allegations and that I was offering an opinion about legal conclusions assuming that the facts (Sterger was unwilling, the calls actually were from Favre) were true. That is not a rush to judgment because I did not declare anything to be true.

But thanks for participating.

Blogger Howard Wasserman -- 10/15/2010 12:10 PM  


Great post, thanks for the links. You seem to be reading day and night looking for good stuff to post lol...

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