The widely popular sports-based website/blog, deadspin.com has broken perhaps its biggest story to date—the growing Brett Favre sexual harassment scandal.
That is, providing even an ounce of it is true.
The story, if you haven't already heard or read, is that while with the New York Jets, Favre—who's married with two kids—allegedly made unwanted advances toward former Jets employee Jenn Sterger, whose previous claim-to-fame was her multiple appearances at Florida State football games and later a few modeling gigs, including Playboy. She now appears routinely on Versus' The Daily Line.
Favre's advances, according to Deadspin, included leaving lewd voice mails and text messages (with naked photos of himself from the waist down) on Sterger's cell phone.
Now, as that story gains momentum, two other former female Jets employees have come forth alleging that Favre harassed them as well.
The question everyone seems to want to know—and make their own conclusions upon—is whether Favre did harass any or all of the women in question.
But let's back up a moment. Where did this information come from?
Not only is the growing story two years old, but according to Deadspin, the website paid for their information on Favre and Sterger. In one report, a spokesperson from Deadspin said it was the most the site ever paid for a lead.
Is that journalism? Or is that more like the work of Vivid Entertainment paying the latest Hollywood starlet for her sex tape that was supposedly "stolen?"
Deadspin then posted its story, not knowing or seemingly confirming that either the voicemails or photos are in fact from Favre. The voice may sound like Favre, but couldn't it also be an impersonator of some sort? Could Deadspin tell? And as for the below-the-waste photos, well, try and prove those are of No.4.
To top it off, Sterger's manager has told other news outlets that none of this information came from Sterger. So how does Deadspin have voice mails and texted photos sent from Favre to Sterger if she did not provide them?
Deadspin refuses to say. Protecting a source is one thing, but what Deadspin is engaging in may be something else entirely considering money was involved.
If Deadspin's story is 100 percent (or even 90 percent) accurate, then they deserve some accolades for their work. However, if the story is completely untrue or perhaps only 10 percent correct, I hope the site is destroyed by Favre and the NFL.
I am not a Favre apologist or even a fan. I don't care if he's a family man or a scumbag. What's concerning is how this story originated and where it seems to be heading.
The NFL has now reportedly begun an investigation into the matter. This could be serious if in fact Favre was harassing fellow Jets employees. It could lead to a suspension under the league's personal conduct policy or worse. (Of course, every fan should be concerned when the NFL investigates itself. Having no outside oversight, many league "investigations" are not nearly as thorough as they claim to be, despite the NFL having former FBI and CIA agents on the payroll).
So is this the future of sports writing in America? Paying for a two-year-old story that has many holes and questions within it, publishing it, and watching as it worms its way through the sports world?
The sports media—especially the likes of ESPN—leave much to be desired with their inability to conduct any investigative reporting for fear of losing access to teams and players. Too much money is at stake with the way networks and leagues are in bed together for true reporting to take place.
Yet Deadspin's conduct may not be a better alternative. Blogging is an interesting twist on reporting, but it has to be done correctly and accurately for the benefit of everyone involved, from subject to writer to reader.
Time will tell where the truth with this story lies...as may the future of sports reporting.
For more, visit: www.thefixisin.net