At USA Today, columnist Christine Brennan takes a look at the privacy expectations of professional athletes, including golfer Tiger Woods and NFL player Brett Favre.
Fifteen years ago, in a world with no Deadspin and no TMZ, with no text messages and no cellphone cameras, their personal transgressions — real and alleged — would have gone unnoticed, except perhaps for a few supermarket tabloid headlines. The mainstream sports media, both newspapers and TV networks, wouldn’t — couldn’t — have touched the stories, with the exception of Woods’ car accident and subsequent admissions, of course.
Woods and Favre would have been like dozens, perhaps hundreds, of well-known professional athletes before them, living one life in public, another in private, and pulling it off with hardly anyone knowing, often for the entire length of their careers.
Of course, men like Woods and Favre don’t come from that world. They live in, and in fact have come to symbolize, another era. Someday, it likely will be viewed as the Internet Era in sports, a time when athletes found out their extravagant salaries came with a price: their privacy. Only because they were so entitled did some not realize this until it was too late. […]
At its core, that’s what this is about: Did Favre sexually harass sideline reporter Jenn Sterger (and, possibly, a massage therapist) when they all worked for the New York Jets in 2008? What once would have been personal is now public, and that’s what the NFL is addressing. […]
While Favre’s reputation and future twist in the wind, we can imagine how he must be wishing, as Woods likely did, for a time when athletes got away with almost everything. It must sound downright sublime to live without the Internet, without cellphones, without anyone to catch you doing anything wrong.