In defense of Jenn Sterger…

I’ll be honest — this isn’t an easy piece to write. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for attention whores who balk when they start to get the wrong kind of attention. (Be careful what you wish for, right?) Ms. Sterger gained notoriety by prominently displaying her bought-and-paid-for assets in the front row of Florida State football games. She eventually parlayed that into some work for, photo shoots for Maxim and Playboy, and was the Jets’ sideline reporter during the 2008 season, which is where she caught Brett Favre’s eye.

By now you know the story, right? Favre tried to make contact, but she wasn’t down with the idea of having casual sex with an older, married man. Favre persisted, leaving awkward, desperate-sounding voicemails and eventually (and allegedly) sending pictures of his junk. (Those pictures, by the way, show a watch that matches the watch that Favre wears pretty much all the time. This, coupled with his silence on the matter, is enough proof for me.)

As the story has continued to develop, I have noticed a fair amount of vitriol directed at Ms. Sterger, using just about every name in the book that describes a promiscuous gold-digger. While I don’t know Ms. Sterger personally, she certainly doesn’t seem terribly promiscuous — she turned down the future Hall of Famer’s advances, after all — or interested in Favre’s money, as she has remained completely silent on the subject. She didn’t sell the pictures or voicemails to Deadspin, and while the fact that they obtained them certainly raises some questions (i.e. how did they get them if not from her?), it doesn’t seem like she has profited from this scandal (so far).

Some criticize her for the fact that it took two years for her to come forward with these allegations, but the truth is she hasn’t come forward. As part of a meeting/conversation that was set up to discuss something else (a Deadspin swimsuit project), she only mentioned Favre’s advances after the subject turned to the ‘athlete dong photo phenomenon.’ At that point, she probably thought the conversation was relatively innocent, but the Deadspin editor, A.J. Daulerio, knew that he would run with the story/rumors at some point. There was just too much in it for him and his website. In fact, Daulerio quotes a later email where Sterger specifically tells him that she doesn’t want the story to come out. Is she stupid for bringing this salacious story up with the editor of arguably the most prominent sports gossip blog in the country, expecting it never to come out? Yes, that was a very dumb move, but it wasn’t malicious.

At the time, Sterger was likely wondering where her career was going to take her. When she spoke to Deadspin (around February 2010) she hadn’t yet landed her current gig as resident social media expert on Vs.’ “The Daily Line” and she wasn’t considering how the information about Favre might negatively impact her career. Now that she has tried to carve out a semi-serious niche for herself, she doesn’t want to backtrack into Rachel Uchitel territory. (By the way, I watched a recent episode of “The Daily Line” and I don’t know why they even bother. She had a 30-second bit in the middle of the show, but sat there like a frog on a log for the remainder of the episode. It was actually quite awkward. There she was — a key player in the biggest sports story going — and she doesn’t say a word about it. Holy elephant, Batman.)

Other critics will point to her decision to keep the pictures and voicemails, as there must be some ulterior motive. But she told Daulerio that she kept them for laughs (I could see that) and never intended to sell them. The cool thing to do would have been to delete all of Favre’s correspondence and never mention it to anyone. The shitty thing to do would be to break the story herself and try to profit from it. Ms. Sterger did neither. While she’s certainly not innocent in this story, she’s not the ‘bad guy.’

That’s Favre’s role. I know he still has a lot of fans in Wisconsin, Minnesota and around the country, and their first instinct is to come to his defense, but he was a married guy trying to cheat on his wife. Had he left Ms. Sterger alone when she initially spurned his advances, none of this would have ever come out. There would be no desperate voicemails and no pictures of his junk floating around the internet. Look at it this way — Brett Favre’s ace card is that he’s Brett Favre. If a girl doesn’t want to sleep with Brett Favre the icon, then no amount of wooing is going to work. It’s not like she’s going to change her mind because of his sparkling personality or the size of penis (certainly not the latter, based on the photos), so why even go down that road? It can only backfire, and it totally, totally backfired.

So, in summary, while Ms. Sterger doesn’t seem to be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, she decided in the end that she didn’t want this to come out. It was probably more for her sake than for Favre’s, but nevertheless, she hasn’t done anything to indicate that she’s a promiscuous gold-digger.

The defense rests its case.

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