As the Jets prepare to renew a rivalry that has a history of camera controversies, the Jets have a camera controversy.
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that Jets players recently have “alerted the NFL Players Association in recent weeks about what appeared to be surveillance equipment hidden in smoke detectors in the Jets locker room.”
PFT has confirmed that the NFLPA has received those complaints, and that the union is contemplating the appropriate action to take in response to the discovery.
According to Mehta, the NFLPA informed the league, the league responded directly to the NFLPA, and the league contends that no further action is required by the Jets.
A league spokesman said this to PFT via email on Saturday morning: “We responded directly to the NFLPA’s inquiry.”
Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the Jets view the cameras as serving a legitimate security purpose, aimed at protecting the players. The cameras aren’t monitored; the evidence captured is reviewed and used only if an incident occurs (like, say, a linebacker punching a quarterback in the mouth) in the locker room.
The Jets contend, per one source, that the cameras violate no laws and comply with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Jets contend, per the source, that the league and players are aware the cameras exist; the source says that, over the years, players have asked the team to review security footage in the event something has gone missing from the locker room.
Mehta mentions a New Jersey law that generally covers the videotaping of people whose “intimate parts are exposed.” The law, however, expressly excludes “circumstances in which a reasonable person would not expect to be observed.”
Obviously, football players routinely move in and around a locker room all the time with “intimate parts” observed, by teammates, coaches, reporters, anyone authorized to be present, and sometimes the audience at home.
Although the New Jersey law may not apply, the union may argue that the CBA doesn’t allow surveillance of this nature. Per a source with knowledge of the NFL’s position, the league believes placement of surveillance cameras would not be subject to bargaining because it falls within the scope of “management rights” under the CBA.
However it plays out, it’s a potentially important issue, because it’s highly unlikely that the Jets are the only NFL team with hidden cameras in locker rooms. Indeed, way back in 2002, Saints receiver Albert Connell was caught by a security camera taking $863 from the locker of Saints running back Deuce McAllister.
By a security camera.