Jets linebacker Bart Scott threatened to punch a reporter who took his picture in the Jets’ locker room on Friday, and now the reporter is standing by the actions that drew Scott’s ire.
The reporter, Dan Leberfeld, writes at JetsConfidential.com that he was merely trying to document instances of Scott talking to other reporters for a story Leberfeld is writing about Scott’s media boycott. Scott has said he won’t talk to reporters because he’s angry that the media have portrayed the Jets’ locker room as a circus, and Leberfeld apparently wants to show that Scott is, in fact, talking to some reporters.
So is it appropriate to take a player’s picture in the locker room? Some teams have rules prohibiting any photography in the locker room, but Leberfeld says he has regularly taken pictures in the Jets’ locker room in the past, and no one has ever objected before. Leberfeld refers to his actions as “100 percent within the rules.”
However, Leberfeld then acknowledges in the same paragraph that the rules say players can only be photographed when fully clothed, and that Leberfeld took one picture of Scott when his shirt was off. So apparently Leberfeld’s actions weren’t “100 percent” within the rules.
A dispute has also arisen about whether Friday was the first time Scott objected to Leberfeld taking his picture. Neil Best of Newsday reports that Scott swore at Leberfeld repeatedly after Leberfeld took Scott’s picture on Wednesday. And the Associated Press reports that the reporter Scott was talking to on Wednesday was upset at Leberfeld for taking the picture. Leberfeld, however, says that Scott’s tirade on Friday was the first time he heard anyone raise any objections.
The Associated Press story has some details that don’t make a lot of sense. For instance, it refers to Scott’s conversations that Leberfeld photographed as “off the record.” But when reporters want to have off-the-record conversations with players, why would they do it during the times when all the media have access to the locker room? Those media access times are specifically designed for reporters to interview players on the record. If a reporter and a player want to talk off the record, they should choose a more private setting.
It’s also odd that the Associated Press specifically mentions that both of the reporters Scott was talking to, on Wednesday and on Friday, were female. How is the sex of the reporters relevant? The Associated Press doesn’t say.
The Jets expressed concern in a statement released by the team.
“We work hard to foster an appropriate working environment,” the team said. “We regret this incident occurred and are reviewing the matter.”
Scott has previously been fined $10,000 for giving the finger to reporters at the Jets’ facilities. The team should make it clear to Scott that he needs to conduct himself like a professional when dealing with the media. And the Jets should also clear up what the rules are on taking pictures in an area where players are often not fully clothed.