- Associated Press - Saturday, October 9, 2010

Brett Favre always figured to be the center of attention on this, the fifth week of the NFL season. Even before the Vikings signed Randy Moss, there were story lines aplenty in his return to New York to play against a team he parted ways with on shaky terms.

It’s a safe guess he didn’t figure on this.

The headlines are still mostly about the game, because the game is about as good as it gets. A good portion of the country will tune in Monday night wondering whether the only grandfather behind center in the NFL can pull out another miracle against time while facing a defense that can’t wait to get its hands on him.

But they’ll also be wondering about something else.

They’ll be wondering if it’s all true.

The voice mails that are downright creepy. The pictures that are downright obscene.

The scandal, if true, will never let you look at Favre in a Wranglers commercial the same way again.

Stop now if this is all sounding like something we’ve been through before. We are, after all, fast approaching the one year anniversary of the night Tiger Woods drove his Escalade into a fire hydrant and his secret world came crashing down around him.

That was shocking, almost beyond belief. This is just, well, disgusting.

Assuming, of course, that it’s even true.

The website Deadspin certainly thinks it is, and the people who run it better hope so. They paid cash _ and lots of it, apparently _ for evidence that allegedly shows Favre had an infatuation with a woman who worked at Jets games that went far beyond the “Look at her, she’s hot” thing that most athletes tend to engage in when an attractive woman passes by.

Favre was quarterbacking New York at the time and a voice that sounds suspiciously like his is heard on the voice mails that Deadspin obtained, inviting game hostess Jenn Sterger to visit him in his room. That alone would be inappropriate behavior for a married man, but it gets worse.

Much worse.

There are pictures. Lewd pictures allegedly of Favre, all allegedly sent by Favre to Sterger and posted in all their glory on the website.

The term for it these days is sexting. There are other legal terms for it if it’s done without the consent of the receiving party, and that and the fact Sterger was working for the Jets at the time is apparently what stirred the NFL to look into the matter.

The league says it’s investigating and, hopefully, the first assumption the NFL begins with is one of innocence. It should be noted that Sterger never made a formal complaint about the matter, and a spokesman for the former model turned TV personality says she never gave the voice mails or pictures to Deadspin.

The website itself even covered its bases some by acknowledging “there’s a possibility that the person communicating with Jenn was not actually Brett Favre, but rather someone trying very hard to appear to be him.”

Still, Favre had a chance to deny everything at a Thursday news conference where all questions except one were about football and didn’t. Asked directly about the reports, he answered indirectly.

“I’m not getting into that,” Favre said. “I’ve got my hands full with the Jets and am trying to get some timing down with our guys, so that’s all I’m going to discuss.”

It’s all very titillating, of course, which is all that seems to matter in today’s new world of communications. The voice mails will draw hits to the website, much like the voice mails that Woods left to one of his mistresses did for another site in the days following his infamous accident.

But if it’s not terribly shocking, well, maybe that’s because we’ve seen it all before. After Woods and his cadre of mistresses it’s hard to be shocked _ or even surprised _ by anything any athlete either does or is rumored to have done.

What all of it means to Minnesota’s chances of knocking off the Jets on Monday night, who knows. Vikings fans _ and Favre fans _ surely hope their favorite quarterback isn’t so easily distracted that he goes up against the ferocious Jets defense while wondering just what the NFL is looking into and how deep they plan to look.

If the voice mails and pictures weren’t from Favre, he should take comfort in the fact the league has top flight investigators who should be able to quickly disprove their legitimacy.

If they were from Favre, he better start worrying about the ramifications of starring in the one drama he wants no role in.


Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org

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