Inez Sainz prides herself on being the most attractive reporter in Mexico, and dresses in a provocative manner. So when the news broke that she was getting heckled by the Jets players and staff, my initial reaction was, “what a surprise!” Wasn’t it predictable that a beautiful woman wearing tightly fitting clothing at a football practice would draw inappropriate comments? She was asking for attention and she got her wish. The coaching staff threw footballs in her direction and the players were making catcalls. Although the NFL was properly upset with the Jets for acting unprofessionally it should not have been surprised. After all, “boys will be boys!”
The next day, I had a chance to read what Clinton Portis, running back for the Washington Redskins, had to say on the matter. “You put a woman and you give her a choice of 53 athletes, somebody got to be appealing to her,” Portis said during the interview. “You know, somebody got to spark her interest, or she’s going to want somebody. I don’t know what kind of woman won’t, if you get to go and look at 53 men’s [bodies]. … I know you’re doing a job, but at the same time, the same way I’m going to cut my eye if I see somebody worth talking to, I’m sure they do the same thing.”
The behavior of the Jets and the comments by Portis highlight the significance of something we say in our daily prayers. In the early morning prayers we ask God not to place us in a position to sin or transgress, nor to place us in a position to test our willpower. The beautiful Ms. Sainz, by dressing provocatively, tested the maturity and sensitivity of the Jets, and set them up for failure. Unfortunately, but predictably, they failed the test.
In years past, society may have blamed Ms. Sainz for provoking the Jets and taken the attitude that she deserved the treatment she received. Thankfully, sans a few people of note, we have matured as a society. While I, as a rabbi, may disapprove of her choice of clothing and contend that it was unprofessional, and not up to the standards of modesty typical in the professional world of journalism, her questionable choice of attire does not give anyone the right to treat her with disrespect! True, the Jets players and staff were placed in a compromising position, but they should not have behaved in the way that they did.
Think about it: Should we blame McDonalds for causing Jewish people to eat non-kosher? Is a rape victim to blame for dressing immodestly? Are we to blame women who let themselves become vulnerable to their Clergy who take advantage of them, by saying that they should have kept their emotional problems to themselves? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding no!
Life is full of traps and pitfalls that we can fall into. Our responsibility is to overcome the myriad temptations that this world provides us with and to continue living a fully moral life.
Religion is all about discipline. It challenges us to act in a way that is in line with our values, no matter what society throws at us. Yes, the ‘secular’ world is distracting, tempting, and alluring. The beauty of religion, however, is that it provides us with a bedrock set of values that guide us through life’s challenges and enable us to overcome the temptation to stray from the path of virtue. Let’s hope that the Jets, who begin and end each game day with a prayer, will rededicate themselves to the values of decency and respect for others that form the basis of our Judea-christian tradition. If they do so, we will not see a repeat of last week’s embarrassing episode.