Clinton Portis, who is probably best-known for this garishly flamboyant costumes in his earlier NFL career more than he is for his talent at running the football for the Washington Redskins, made a few comments on “The Mike Wise Show,” a radio talk show in D. C., that put the NFL on edge and kept the Ines Sainz sexual harassment controversy in the headlines.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, not only did he say that TV Azteca reporter Ines Sainz would find that most men would want to “say something” to her, he also presumed that she would “want somebody” in that group of men. Clinton Portis’ remarks sparked outrage and a demand from the NFL and the Washington Redskins that he apologize. He did, but nobody was listening. Damage done.
Portis appeared on Tuesday’s “The Mike Wise Show” and rendered his opinion on the Ines Sainz scandal, wherein the Mexican reporter interviewed Mark Sanchez, starting quarterback of the New York Jets, after having a locker room full of grown men catcall and hoot at her when she entered the room for the interview.
Portis said, “I think you put women reporters in the locker room in position to see guys walking around naked, and you sit in the locker room with 53 guys and all of the sudden you see a nice woman in the locker room, I think men are going to tend to turn and look and want to say something to that woman.”
That could have been all there was to it — a simple explanation of male pack behavior in the presence of an attractive woman. But Clinton Portis just couldn’t help himself — and continued.
“You put a woman and you give her a choice of 53 athletes, somebody got to be appealing to her,” he kept digging. “Somebody got to spark her interest, or she’s gonna want somebody. I don’t know what kind of woman won’t, if you get to go and look at 53 men’s packages.”
Presumption of grandiosity and over-inflated self-worth might be new additions to the Clinton Portis group of descriptors — if they weren’t there already. The NFL noted that Portis’ remarks were “clearly inappropriate, offensive and (having) no place in the NFL.”
Portis apologized, saying that he respected “all reporters.”
Although Sainz no doubt is no stranger to the childish behavior of men (she was Miss Spain 1997), she posted to Twitter afterward that she was “dying of embarassment.” But she soldiered on and ignored the Jets and their remarks. It wasn’t until the next day, Sunday, when the NFL called and wanted her to make a statement about what went on in the locker room, that she discovered that something serious had occurred. Another female reporter had complained and the Association for Women in Sports Media filed a complaint with the NFL and contacted the New York Jets about the incident.
Since the incident, Ines Sainz has appeared on numerous talk shows and news programs, noting that she is confident that the NFL will make the right decision regarding the incident. She has also admitted that she was more uncomfortable than offended, but makes the point that, even though she is a woman, she and other female reporters deserve professional respect. She told CNN’s Rick Sanchez that she had received and accepted a personal apology from the New York Jets owner, Woody Johnson, and his promise to help ensure that female reporters were treated better in the future.
But Clinton Portis’ presumptuous remarks about the views of the athletes toward a woman and a woman toward a group of men (apparently on display) have opened up the floodgates on the debate of overt sexism in the NFL. Some are pointing the finger at Sainz, stating she was dressed provocatively (although that had never been a problem before). Some are pointing at the men in the locker room and their lack of professionalism. Some put it down to “boys will be boys” mentality and shrug it off. And still others point to it as a reflection of societal attitudes toward women in general, women in sports, and the general disrespect shown females by the NFL’s constituents.
It is a debate that has raged on in many venues and forums over the past century — the place of the female in a male-dominant society. But is it a debate that should be held? If women are to be treated equally in an egalitarian society (one that is not not male-dominant, but gender neutral or equal), should they not at all times be given the same due respect accorded males? Is that not what is to be aspired to at all times — equal treatment? So what is there to debate? Why is there still a debate?
The NFL has launched an investigation into the Jets-Ines Sainz matter and plan counseling sessions with the team. The New York Jets had a team meeting Monday over the incident.