Jenn Sterger said that based on her own experience, she doesn't believe a word Goodell says about curbing off-field violence involving NFL stars.
Advertisement "The only reason the NFL is doing anything about these players now is because it may cost the league sponsorship money," Sterger, a TV and Internet personality, told the Daily News. Goodell took heat for initially only giving Rice a two-game suspension. Once the tape surfaced and prompted an outcry, the commissioner suspended Rice indefinitely and the Ravens terminated his contract. The Rice debacle was quickly followed by the arrest of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson on charges of child abuse stemming from him whipping his 4-year-old son with a tree branch.
The Vikings, who deactivated Peterson for one game, had planned to play the league MVP on Sunday, but flip-flopped when sponsors threatened to bail. Radisson hotels quickly severed ties. Sterger said she's heard Goodell and other NFL executives express regrets in the past about the league's failure to appropriately punish players who abuse and assault women and children. She said Goodell and the league have only begun to address their problems because they've been placed under a global microscope.
The only thing they care about is money," Sterger said. The exposure led to modeling gigs, a column for Sports Illustrated's website and other career opportunities. Advertisement Favre, who had spent most of his career with the Green Bay Packers, was the Jets starting quarterback when the team hired Sterger as its game day host. The dream job with an NFL team turned into a nightmare when a Jets employee approached Sterger early in the season and told her that the thenyear-old quarterback Favre would like her phone number.
Favre was too old, too married, and she didn't want to do anything that would jeopardize her job. She thought that was the end of it, but she soon started getting creepy voicemails and lewd text messages — including alleged pictures of the NFL icon's crotch. Sterger feared that her career would become derailed if she complained to her bosses or went public about Favre's crude advances.
But she shared the story with an editor at Deadspin. The irreverent sports website later obtained and posted some of Favre's photos and text messages. The NFL launched an investigation, and Sterger said it became apparent the league was more interested in protecting the shield than doing the right thing for a victim.
NFL investigators demanded that she turn over all her text messages, even those that had nothing to do with Favre or the Jets. They peppered her with inappropriate questions about her personal life, she said. The NFL lawyers and investigators who questioned her were all men, most old enough to be her grandfather. Sterger said she was extremely uncomfortable with some of their sexually explicit questions.
She said she would have been much more comfortable with women. Sterger retained an attorney but said she was never interested in pursuing a settlement.
Her former manager, Phil Reese, said in a December interview with Sports Illustrated's Dan Patrick that she would not pursue litigation against Favre, the Jets and the NFL if Goodell punished the quarterback and established league-wide sexual harassment program. The fine was levied because Favre would not cooperate with the investigation in a "forthcoming manner.
These days, she is living in Los Angeles and pursuing a career as a standup comic. It has helped me work through some of this.