- Associated Press - Thursday, October 14, 2010

EDEN PRAIRIE, MINN. (AP) - Over 20 seasons as an NFL quarterback, Brett Favre has taken plenty of hits on the field.

Now his reputation is taking a hit, too.

The NFL is investigating the Deadspin website report that he allegedly sent below-the-waist naked photos of himself to a woman who worked for the New York Jets when he played for the team two years ago.

Favre has become one of America’s most popular athletes by winning a Super Bowl, setting all kinds of passing and durability records and building an image as an everyday down-to-earth guy.

Just watch one of those Wrangler commercials, where he plays backyard pickup ball with a bunch of smiling and laughing guys while wearing a T-shirt, blue jeans and stubble.

Wrangler, arguably his highest-profile promotion, issued a statement Thursday saying “we are following the story like everyone else.

“We are not making any major decisions on our marketing program until more information is available,” Wrangler spokesman Rick French said.

Even if Favre ultimately avoids punishment from the league, it’s clear that this damage _ fair or not _ will be difficult to repair.

“It has certainly shifted to ‘good family guy and one of us’ to ‘just like every other professional athlete’ we can’t trust,” said sports marketing specialist Matt Delzell.

So will we still see Favre starring in television ads after he retires?

“I see it highly unlikely for the simple fact that the companies he endorses have hung their hat on his being a good-old-boy family guy in middle America,” Delzell said in an interview from his Dallas-area office, where he’s a director for the entertainment marketing agency Davie Brown Talent.

Favre has dodged all questions about the story, even when given opportunities to directly deny it’s true. According to marketing and public relations analysts, the Minnesota Vikings quarterback has made the matter worse by not addressing it.

Asked after Minnesota’s loss to the New York Jets on Monday night if the allegation has been an embarrassment, Favre said, “I am embarrassed about this football game.”

When Tiger Woods tumbled from grace following revelations of his infidelity, he took months to acknowledge his behavior and apologize for it. Michael Gordon, the chief executive officer of Group Gordon, a corporate and crisis public relations outfit in New York, compared Favre’s evasiveness on this issue to what happened with Woods.

“It looks like he’s trying to dance around it, which is only creating more questions around him rather than fewer,” said Gordon, whose firm works with public figures, sports organizations and a variety of others. “If he were more forthcoming it would seem less ominous, but it looks like he’s trying to hide something. The people who have handled these situations well are the ones who come out honestly with the facts and tell a complete story so there are no more questions down the road.”

Story Continues →