MIAMI — Brett Favre might soon lose his Wrangler contract. If he can't keep his jeans on, he shouldn't be advertising them.
But we don't know if Favre is the man in those salacious photos that were sent to a former New York Jets television game hostess while he was a Jets quarterback in 2008. Nor do we know if he is the author of racy text messages or the narrator of naughty voice mails sent to Jenn Sterger, who once got attention for her revealing Florida State "Cowgirl" outfits and currently appears on a Versus sports show called The Daily Line.
We don't know because Favre isn't talking about the allegations. Are they sexual-harassment allegations? We don't know that either because Sterger has not publicly explained what happened. Two "unidentified" massage therapists have also turned up.
The NFL is investigating. Commissioner Roger Goodell must enforce his personal conduct policy for one and all, whether it's Ben Roethlisberger, catcalling Jets or Favre.
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Goodell, who is spending more time than he planned on issues of morality and machismo, might shed light on the Favre mess. Or he might dump it in the trash, where it belongs if nobody felt hurt or threatened.
Trash is the operative word for much of the information pelting our overloaded brains.
Don't we have enough to occupy ourselves without looking at Favre's penis?
Must we stoop to observing the world through a peephole?
How about if the Internet crashed and went blank for 48 hours? Or just 15 minutes, thus denying at least one poser his or her 15 minutes of fame?
Trash, unsubstantiated trash, your neighbor's trash, celebrities' trash — it all stinks. What's the pleasure in sniffing it?
If Favre did something wrong, he can expect to be punished by the NFL, which is serious about cleaning up its act, and that includes workplace harassment. The behavior rule will be a sticking point as a new collective bargaining agreement is negotiated.
But please spare us the spectacle of Favre standing before the microphones and making a public apology, repeating the awkward scenes we saw with Tiger Woods and Roethlisberger.
The Favre situation appears to be on a different plane than that of Roethlisberger, accused but not charged with being a dangerous lout who preyed on a young woman, or Woods, alleged to have had multiple extramarital affairs.
Favre is caught in a sexting scandal, not a sex scandal.
Was he using his power as an NFL star in a harmful way? Or was he being offensive and/or tasteless and/or dumb? (Future sports stars ought to take heed from the cell phone mistakes of Michael Phelps, Woods and now, perhaps, Favre: Technology bites.)
What if Favre's iron man streak of 290 starts since 1992 ends because of a suspension — because of a sext message?
If Favre was playing around with Sterger, I agree with Charles Barkley, who told USA Today, "Listen, if Brett Favre sent that woman pictures it ain't up to me to decide whether that's right or wrong. That's between him, the girl and his wife."
But according to Deadspin.com, Sterger described Favre as a "creepy douche" who initiated the string of messages and she "spurned his advances."
Either way, he stands to lose millions in endorsements, like Woods. Companies want clean. Favre, the handsome, all-American, down-home guy, has to promote a persona that comes across as genuine. That's just what an image is — a concept, a projection.
So here we have a smudge. A very different kind of picture of Favre. Let's decide not to look at it. Just as we would not eavesdrop on friends in their bedroom, let's not go there.
Something went awry when Monica Lewinsky saved her stained dress. Way too much information is circulating, and way too many people think they must have it. That sense of entitlement led to the suicide of a college student whose romantic privacy was violated by classmates grown callous to the damage the Internet and a camera can do.
Incessant e-mailing, texting, Twittering, blogging and photographing goes hand-in-hand with the boom in reality TV shows. Too much trash. Time to say: Mind your own banal business. Good luck, Brett. Next time, use a Polaroid.