The Jets harassed a female reporter during practice. According to another female reporter who was there, it was the natural outcome of an eye candy "journalist," and a bunch of overgrown young men, filled with testosterone and not much sense.
Sainz, a reporter for Mexico's TV Azteca, was at the Meadowlands to do a piece on Mark Sanchez. As she waited on the sidelines, Rex Ryan supposedly instructed an assistant coach to conduct a passing drill that would make the receivers cross paths with Sainz. There were quite a few volunteers to run the drill, including Jason Taylor (not a receiver) and coach Dennis Thurman (not even a player).
Later on, Sainz was greeted in the locker room with hoots, whistles and catcalls. A local reporter confirms to us that this was done more jokingly than maliciously, but that Sainz and a number of onlookers were visibly uncomfortable.
Let's be clear: Inez Sainz is not your typical reporter. She's a former Miss Universe contestant, not a journalism school grad. She's best known in NFL circles for showing up at the Super Bowl media day, and drawing more attention than the players she's covering (see photo atop this post). This is not Lisa Olson, respected journalist, being verbally and borderline physically harassed by the Patriots.
The culture of football reporting has changed. Once upon a time, if you were a woman, you had to be leaps and bound better than your male colleagues to even get a chance. Now there's an entire coterie of bubbly blondes, roaming the sidelines, getting interviews at least as pointless as their male counterparts, but the male audience is happy.
We can dismiss Sainz as a product of a different culture, where attractiveness is a prerequisite to be on TV. (Have you seen Sabado Gigante?) But Google Image search her, then do the same for Erin Andrews or Jenn Brown. Not too different.
For reference, here's an outfit Sainz says is similar to the one she was wearing on Saturday. She Tweeted, "some people say I was dressed inappropriately when covering the Jets, but I was dressed exactly like this!"
Players wouldn't think of doing to Andrews what they did to Sainz, because they know her, they know ESPN. But Sainz? She's an interloper.
And therein lies one possible explanation, though no excuse, for the players' behavior. A lack of respect.
"There's a handful of female reporters who cover the Jets," says the reporter who told us about the locker room incident, and insists she's never been on the receiving end of any harassment. "They're here every day, and they've never gotten catcalled, or disrespected because they're women. It's because they're here every day. [Sainz] was an outsider. An outsider in tight jeans, but an outsider."
That theory is all the stronger in light of Kris Jenkins's shouted comment to Sainz, "This is our locker room!"
Hell, even Peter Gammons, of all people, makes a comment about Sainz being in Maxim Magazine. To these players (and not a few members of the media), Sainz is an actress, or a celebrity, being given a microphone and shoved into a locker room. To them, she's not a reporter, but just another random attractive woman.
Does this justify the Jets' behavior? Not by a long shot. You see an attractive woman on the street, or at your workplace, you don't stare like a cartoon character. You don't go out of your way to bump into her. You don't catcall her. If you do, you're just a jerk.
But then, no one ever said professional athletes weren't good at being jerks.