New York Jets & NFL Should Stop Selling Sex

Cecil HarrisCorrespondent IJuly 25, 2009

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 20: Commentator Erin Andrews of ESPN reports from the sidelines as the University of Miami Hurricanes host the Texas A&M Aggies at the Orange Bowl on September 20, 2007 in Miami, Florida.  Miami won 31-17.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Half of the Jets’ four preseason games (Aug. 14 vs. the Rams and Sept. 3 vs. the Eagles) will be televised in the metropolitan New York area on WCBS-TV. That means Samantha Ryan, the station’s attractive sports anchor, will again be “reporting” from the sidelines.


You see women on the sidelines now on almost every football telecast, telling us the status of an injured player, interviewing an athlete’s parents in the stands, questioning a coach at halftime who just wants to get into the locker room, or demonstrating a firm grasp of the obvious:


“The Bills are down 24-0 in the fourth quarter, and the players are just so depressed down here on the sideline. Guys with their heads down. No emotion. No life. They just look totally beaten. Back to you in the booth.”


Sideline reporting has become a way to showcase pretty women on men’s sports events where they weren’t seen before. But is the job is unnecessary?


CBS admits as much once the regular season begins because it doesn’t use sideline reporters on NFL games. Instead, the announcers in the booth tell us about injured players and conduct post-game interviews.


Sideline reporters make news only when something embarrassing happens.


During a Jets-Patriots game on Dec. 20, 2003, ESPN put a clearly intoxicated Joe Namath on the air only to have him tell sideline reporter Suzy Kolber, “I want to kiss you.”


Because of a needless sideline interview, the greatest player in Jets history thoroughly humiliated himself on national television.


And remember the Monday Night Football debut of Lisa Guerrero in 2003? Guerrero, who went from modeling lingerie for FHM magazine to imitating a journalist, confused Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsay with Jets quarterback Chad Pennington during a postgame interview.


Before an NFL game last season, comely Fox sideline reporter Danyelle Sargent asked 49ers coach Mike Singletary in a taped interview about a phone call he had received days earlier from coaching mentor Bill Walsh.


The problem: Bill Walsh is dead. She meant Mike Ditka, although she probably didn’t know the difference. The interview never went on the air.


Now, ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews is in the news because of a videotape, apparently shot through a peephole, showing her nude in a hotel room.


Despite all of her victories in Internet “Sexiest Sportscaster” polls, Andrews has not made one truly insightful or knowledgeable comment about sports on any network telecast. She is eye candy, nothing more.


And the existence of an X-rated video of her is not surprising. Sometimes, the aggressive selling of eye candy will compel someone to try to break into the store.


Unfortunately, every network that televises football, and every NFL team, is selling sex when the game itself used to be enough.


Why, for instance, do the Jets have an ad promoting their cheerleaders’ “Flight Crew” Swimsuit Calendar at the top of their Web site?


Why are busty, scantily clad “cheerleaders” on NFL sidelines at all? What message are the NFL and its TV partners sending?


A man can be obese, bald, wrinkled or all of the above and still get a job broadcasting football. But for a woman to get a high-profile gig at an NFL game she has to look like she interned inside the pages of Maxim.


If the TV networks want to groom women to work as studio hosts during NFL games, fine. If they want to hire women to do play-by-play (like Pam Ward of ESPN, who does college football), fine.


But don’t distract viewers with sideline reporters who couldn’t pass a football IQ test.


Stop pushing eye candy as if it were virtual crack and just give us football.