NFL, Media and Race: Are Brett Favre and Ben Roethlisberger Protected?

Dexter RogersCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2010

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 13:  Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings talks to the media after the game against the New York Giants at Ford Field on December 13, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. The Giants defeated the Vikings 21-3.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Brett Favre’s consecutive-game streak is over, now all we need is a resolution to the Jenn Sterger situation.  

In 2008, Favre allegedly sent inappropriate texts to Sterger while he played for the New York Jets and she was a team employee. 

An investigation was completed by NFL league investigators last week.  The results were promptly given to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. 

Goodell stated he received the results of the investigation and indicated a decision is forthcoming.  Goodell stated, "I got a report last week. I expect sometime in the near future to be making a decision."

This matter has been ongoing for two months now.  Why has it taken so long to make a decision?

Either Favre sent the texts and harassed Sterger or he did not. It should not take this long to determine what did or did not happen.

This Favre-Sterger situation has been meticulously buried by the media.  Don’t you think a married star quarterback being accused of making unwanted advances and sending texts of his private parts to a female employee is a big deal?

Is Favre getting a pass?

Quite simply, Favre is a made man. This entitles him to a level of protection from the media and NFL hierarchy few others receive.  Furthermore, his complexion and celebrity grant him additional perks, which equate to an even higher level of protection. 

Here’s my two cents.

Both the NFL and the media hierarchy are dominated by whites. Over 94 percent of the editors at mainstream newspapers are white.  Furthermore, 75 percent of the NFL league office is white.

The latest statistics from The Institute of Diversity and Ethics show African-Americans account for just six percent of all positions at mainstream newspapers.  Furthermore, African-Americans account for just 8.6 percent of the positions at the NFL league office.

Facts indicate decision-making positions in both the media and NFL are controlled by whites.  Therefore, the stories are being written and edited by whites and the decisions are being made by a vastly white league office. 

Favre is being granted a pass because of the John Wayne legend created by the media and Goodell’s reluctance to make a swift decision.   

Percentages indicate African-Americans have few connections in the media and the league office that enable them to be granted a pass like Favre. 

Based on the outlined facts, I’m of the opinion that had an African-American quarterback been accused of the items Favre has, the investigation would have been completed sooner and a resolution already made.

Look no further than Ben Roethlisberger, for example.  Roethlisberger has been accused of sexual assault twice in the last two years.  The most recent of Roethlisberger’s alleged assaults was on a 20-year-old college coed in Milledgeville, Georgia, last March. 

The mainstream media were given the nod to keep Roethlisberger’s situation quiet.  ESPN did not cover the story with the level of persistence it had incidents involving African-American athletes like Plaxico Burress, Michael Vick and Tiger Woods.

Even to this day, Roethlisberger’s erratic behavior has become a total non-issue.

Dating back to 2006, when he crashed his motorcycle, to 2008, when he was accused of sexual assault, to this past March, when he was accused of yet another assault, Roethlisberger has enjoyed the perks of being a young white quarterback in the NFL.

Roethlisberger has slithered his way back into his comfort zone with gracious aid from the media and the NFL.  Instead of addressing Roethlisberger’s past, the media ask about his broken nose or his injured ankle.  Rarely is there any mention of the reckless behavior he’s engaged in.

Let’s face it, what Michael Vick did to those dogs was disgusting, but at least he paid his debt to society.  He has also faced the media piper by not shying away from his past. 

Vick has openly talked about the mistakes he’s made and has vowed to be a better person.  Up to this point, he has been true to his word.

Despite his stellar play, he is still scrutinized by a segment of the media.  That segment is asking whether Vick deserves be applauded by fans despite his past.  That segment is asking whether Vick deserves to be a pitchman for products.  That segment is asking whether it is good for the league if he’s named MVP of the NFL.

I have no issue with the latter line of questions so long as there is a level of consistency.  If the media continue to question Vick as he tries to move on with his life, should the media request the same from Roethlisberger?

The media want to talk about his Favre’s consecutive-game streak ending and whether he’ll play again this season.  Those are legitimate topics, but it is also important for the media to cover whether Favre sexually harassed Sterger.

Favre is clearly getting a pass from both the NFL hierarchy by delaying their decision and the media by not pressing the issue that is partly predicated on celebrity and race.

To me, there is a clear double standard between how African-American athletes are treated compared to white athletes: Different strokes for different folks.

Again, that’s my two cents.

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