In reaffirming the NFL's commitment to equal access for all members of the news media, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced today that the league will implement a training program for all 32 teams on proper conduct in the workplace and develop an expanded set of best practices for media relations. These programs and practices will supplement the league's current media policy and improve the ability of clubs to maintain a professional environment in the workplace.
New York Jets owner Woody Johnson has agreed to underwrite the training program, which also will be given to NFL rookies next year to help educate incoming players on how to deal professionally with news media and others in the workplace. The training program and related set of best practices will be developed by the NFL office in consultation with the Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM). It will be implemented at each team on an expedited basis this season.
"We've learned from what happened last Saturday, and have reaffirmed our commitment to treat all members of the media with professionalism and respect," Johnson said. "The commissioner has developed a constructive approach that emphasizes education and awareness. I believe what emerges will improve the working relationship between all media and the NFL."
In reviewing the incident of Saturday, September 11 involving TV Azteca reporter Ines Sainz during the Jets' practice and open locker-room time for the media, the NFL interviewed 17 individuals that were present, including Ms. Sainz. Commissioner Goodell determined that while there was unprofessional conduct, Woody Johnson and his staff acted promptly to correct the situation, including a personal apology to Ms. Sainz and arranging a professional education session for the Jets on workplace conduct.
"I believe this is the most constructive approach," Commissioner Goodell said. "There is no debate about the longstanding equal access rule of our media policy. The issue for us, like all organizations, is proper conduct in the workplace, whether it is dealing with the media, co-workers, fans, or others. It is our responsibility to provide a professional setting for members of the news media and other business associates that work with our teams and the league. We appreciate Woody Johnson stepping up promptly to properly manage the situation at his team and agreeing to underwrite this new initiative for all clubs."
In a letter to Mr. Johnson, Commissioner Goodell said, "The conduct of the Jets clearly should have been better last Saturday, but your prompt action in calling Ines Sainz and Mike Tannenbaum's subsequent discussions with Joanne Gerstner of AWSM have made clear the club's commitment - and your personal commitment - to ensure a respectful and professional environment for all members of the media."