Jets, NFL Investigating Alleged Harassment of Female Reporter

Ines Sainz of TV Azteca
Ines Sainz of TV Azteca is seen here posing for a photograph on the sidelines prior to Super Bowl XLIII on Feb 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Photographer: G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images

The New York Jets and the National Football League are investigating possible harassment of a female reporter by the team’s coaches and players.

“We never want anyone around our team to be uncomfortable,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said after last night’s season-opening loss to the Baltimore Ravens. “We will get down to it. I really don’t want to comment more than that on it.”

Ryan and defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman purposely overthrew passes so they would land near TV Azteca reporter Ines Sainz during a practice in Florham Park, New Jersey, three days ago, the New York Post reported. Several players also allegedly “hooted and hollered” at Sainz, 32, when she later entered the locker room, the paper said.

Jets owner Woody Johnson spoke with Sainz, a former Miss Universe contestant, after the allegations surfaced and said the team’s obligation is to provide reporters with proper and professional access.

“We will continue to work with the league to gather the facts and take any appropriate steps necessary to maintain a respectful environment for the media,” Johnson said in a statement before yesterday’s game.

Sainz did an on-field report before last night’s game, though she didn’t interview players in the locker room afterwards, telling the New York Daily News that she didn’t want to be the focus.

‘Taking it Seriously’

“I believe they are taking it seriously and it’s only going to be one bad experience and no more,” Sainz told reporters before the game, according to the Daily News.

Greg Aiello, a spokesman for the NFL, said in an e-mail that the league is continuing the review process to determine the facts.

Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum contacted the Association for Women in Sports Media last night and invited the group to hold an educational session with the team. The organization, known as AWSM, accepted and will meet with the Jets in the next two weeks.

“AWSM welcomes this opportunity to share our message of advocacy for women in sports media to be treated with respect and professionalism,” the association said on its website. “AWSM formally protested to the NFL Saturday evening, and the league and team launched their investigations into the matter.”

Tony Dungy, the former Indianapolis Colts coach who is now an analyst for NBC Sports, criticized Ryan in August for his frequent use of profanity during the first episode of the HBO program “Hard Knocks,” which chronicled the Jets’ training camp.

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