Brett Favre's come-ons to massage therapists weren't limited to the two women with the New York Jets. Stephanie Dusenberry, an independent masseuse in Eden Prairie, Minn., who has worked with a number of Vikings players, claims that Favre sent her innuendo-laden text messages last September. She contacted the police for advice on how to handle the situation.
Dusenberry reached out to Deadspin earlier this month with this garbled message sent from her Blackberry on Jan. 4. The typos are prominent; her auto-correct changed Brett to Brent:
I am writing to inquire about who I need to.contact to purse legal action against Brent Favre. I am a massage therapist.in MN and worked for the Viking the 2006 season and then started my own business"Therapist of Pro Athletes" in 2007 and have.continued to.work with.several players since. I received a.text.from a Hattisburg.MS phone number saying this is Brent.with the.Vikings. do you have time to work on.me tonight? No hurry.I'm alone. I told him I would not.come to his house and he said you don't.know what.its.like to not be touched by a woman for three weeks, come over and no one needs to know. I called the.Eden prairie police dept and filed a report immediately. Any help or guidance you could give me.would be appreciated.
From there, we had multiple phone conversations with Dusenberry. Initially, she was willing to go public with her information. She'd come forward, she explained, because of the NFL's light punishment of Favre over the Jenn Sterger allegations, and she was now seeking an attorney to help her. "Because if we keep fighting them," she said, "maybe players will think before they act on [inappropriate texts]."
Some background: Dusenberry worked for the team under Vikings head trainer Eric Sugarman in 2006-07 but left the organization to go independent soon after. She maintained good relationships with several players, including Chester Taylor and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, some of whom she worked with this past season. At some point in the past two years, Dusenberry began to receive unwelcome advances from a number of current and former players on the Vikings. She had problems both in session and out of session with former Vikings defensive back Dwight Smith, wide receiver Aundrae Allison, and back-up running back Albert Young. She says that Young, while inquiring about her one-on-one massage services, sent her this photo via text message:
(Note the tattoo above and in this photo.)
Dusenberry asked Sugarman to get her permission before passing out her number to players.
It's worth noting that Dusenberry did what the Jets' massage therapists did not: She raised the issue with her superior, Sugarman. We contacted him by phone at his training center in Eden Prairie. He refused to comment about Dusenberry's allegations and referred all inquiries to the Vikings' vice president of legal affairs and chief administrative officer, Kevin Warren. Warren's office fielded our request for comment and shuffled it off to the Vikings' vice president of public affairs and stadium management, Lester Bagley, who passed along this odd response:
"We do not comment on individuals who may or may not work for us."
In late summer, Dusenberry says, another player asked if he could pass along her number to Brett Favre. Favre contacted her from a phone number with a Mississippi area code: (601) 467-9029. It's now disconnected.
Dusenberry was a fan of Favre's and eager to work with such a high-profile client. Unfortunately, the texts from Favre veered into the sort of creepy banter she'd gotten from other players. "I was crying, " she says. "I was so disappointed." Dusenberry points out that Favre's texts were similar to the ones he allegedly sent the Jets' massage therapists, asking her to stop by his home because his wife was away ("you don't know what it's like to not be touched by a woman in three weeks"). Her boyfriend, Tim Mears, was there when she received the texts and became angry. "You're not going to go beat up Bret Favre," she told him. Dusenberry didn't save the texts but says she is trying to obtain her cell phone logs. (Mears didn't return our call.)
Favre persisted, however, and she responded that the texts were making her uncomfortable and that she was going to contact the police. Favre, she says, began to apologize and insist "it's not like that." In early September, she contacted Jerrad Biggar of the Eden Prairie police department. As Dusenberry remembers it, she mentioned Favre specifically and asked for advice about what to do. Biggar, according to Dusenberry, told her that Favre wasn't doing anything legally wrong and that the police couldn't do anything beyond calling the quarterback and telling him to stop bothering her.
Biggar, for his part, remembers having a conversation with a Vikings massage therapist this fall, but doesn't recall Dusenberry's name or any mention of Favre. He never made a report, either. "She seemed annoyed," he says. "She was just looking for advice on how to handle the situation with someone calling her, and that's as far as I went. I said that if she wanted me to call whoever was calling, I'd call and ask them to stop. ... I assumed it was a Vikings player we were talking about. She wouldn't go into any information on that. You can tell she was a little guarded with that information." (Dusenberry says Biggar is lying and that their entire conversation was explicitly about Brett Favre.)
Whether or not he was doing anything illegal, this latest represents the third (or fourth) set of allegations that Favre has sent lewd texts to contract employees of his own team — the sort of pattern of behavior the NFL, during its investigation of Jenn Sterger's claims, went to great lengths to avoid identifying. Dusenberry wasn't surprised by any of the allegations made by the two Jets therapists. You expect players to hit on you, she explains. "It comes with the territory," she says. "Not all of them do it — but many do." Due to the "independent" nature of the massage therapists' jobs and the fact that unwanted advances are virtually accepted as an occupational hazard, most of this behavior goes unreported, and players are rarely, if ever, disciplined. Favre was certainly not unique in his approach, as Dusenberry noted. I'm sure other therapists have similar stories to tell.
After our initial conversations, Dusenberry requested that all further questions be handled by her attorneys, Bill Michael and Jon Hopeman. They won't comment on the allegations and now claim that their client's conversation with us was strictly confidential (it wasn't). The NFL isn't talking either, says spokesman Greg Aiello: "I haven't heard anything about this, won't comment on it, don't plan on looking into it at this time, and probably won't comment on it until necessary." Bus Cook, Favre's agent, did not return a call for comment.
Favre filed retirement papers yesterday. He's a changed man, a source says. He is fully committed to moving on from his NFL life and being a good family man. His text messages to friends and former teammates alike, we're told, now contain Bible verse.
Additional reporting by Tommy Craggs and Sean Newell
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