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DRESS CODE: With a near Super Bowl-caliber roster largely intact, a gregarious quote machine of a head coach in Rex Ryan and a hit reality show, the New York Jets football franchise has grown comfortable with being the talk of the city this year. It was again this weekend — just not always for reasons of its choosing. As the team prepared to open its season on Monday night, word broke that the National Football League is investigating accusations that several coaches and players had possibly harassed Inés Sainz, a reporter from the Mexican network TV Azteca, at a team practice on Saturday. According to reports, coaches purposely threw passes in Sainz’s direction so players could get closer to her, and several later offered catcalls when the reporter entered the team’s locker room.
By midday, the story had jumped from the New York tabloids to the national media, thanks in no small part to the fact that Sainz is a former Miss Universe contestant who occasionally pushes the boundaries of on-the-job dress. Thus began the debate over what, exactly, Sainz wore on Saturday while reporting her piece on second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez, and whether it mattered. It should be noted that in subsequent TV appearances Sainz says she didn’t feel attacked or harassed but uncomfortable and she had accepted an apology from Jets owner Woody Johnson. But she also took to Twitter to post a picture of herself in what she said was a representative outfit and asked followers to judge for themselves. The image, shot with her back to the camera, showed the reporter in a white blouse, boots and a curve-hugging pair of jeans.
“It wasn’t anything that was overly revealing or anything like that…She wasn’t really dressed inappropriately,” said New York Daily News sports reporter Kevin Armstrong, who was at the practice. Armstrong, who wouldn’t even venture to call Sainz’s top low cut (“It [had] just kind of loose buttons on the top,” he said), chalked the incident up to players behaving immaturely in the presence of an attractive woman.
“Let’s be clear: Ines Sainz is not your typical reporter.…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),” wrote editor Barry Petchesky on the Gawker Media-owned sports blog Deadspin, who made clear that whatever Sainz was wearing, the players still had no excuse. “She’s doing her job,” Petchesky told WWD. “The players, as working professionals, need to let someone do their job.”
Judy Battista, who covers the National Football League for The New York Times but was not at the practice, said there isn’t much of a dress code for anyone in sports journalism.
“Sports is an odd workplace,” she said. “It’s a very casual environment….You see a pretty wide range of how men and women dress.”
To Battista, those who focused on the matter of appropriateness were missing the point.
“If you dressed inappropriately going to work at Goldman Sachs, you certainly wouldn’t want to be hooted and hollered at, and, if you were, you’d expect Goldman Sachs to step in,” she said. — Matthew Lynch