Yellow flag thrown on 49ers' film, leaving NFL with red face again

June 02, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

REMEMBER THE self-righteous outrage expressed by the NFL when Nicollette Sheridan showed up half-naked in the Philadelphia Eagles' locker room in the infamous Desperate Housewives spoof that opened a Monday Night Football telecast in November?

If I recall correctly, the NFL and the Eagles basically disavowed any foreknowledge of the steamy (and hilarious) intro and made it clear that it was not in keeping with the values of the league.

So what are we supposed to make of the revelation yesterday that the San Francisco 49ers' public relations department produced an orientation film for its players that included topless blondes (filmed in the locker room), off-color racial jokes, lesbian porn and a spoof of gay marriage?

Did Howard Stern use all of his Sirius Satellite money to buy an NFL franchise?

The 49ers have fired PR director Kirk Reynolds for producing the video, which also included a mild segment filmed in the office of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome, and released a statement through team lawyer Ed Goines calling it "completely inappropriate" (that's a relief) and "absolutely contradictory to the ideals and the values of the San Francisco 49ers."

OK, I know what you're thinking: This is an outrage.

I also know what else you're thinking: Where can I get a copy?

No problem there. The San Francisco Chronicle obtained the tape from an unidentified source and put it right on the Internet (with some digital editing to sanitize it). What a country.

The more important issue, however, is how something like this could happen and stay under the radar screen for nearly a year. The video was shown to players at the club's Santa Clara, Calif., training camp in August, and nobody said a word about it until somebody turned the tape over to the Chronicle.

Reynolds already is crying foul, charging that former 49ers general manager Terry Donohue leaked the video to get him fired. If so, it certainly did the trick. The training film was so far beyond the boundaries of appropriateness that I'm surprised Reynolds showed his face long enough to try to defend it.

(Reynolds told the Chronicle he went "too far," but said the video should be judged in the context of its target audience. It was meant for the locker room, he said, not public consumption, though I'm not sure that really changes anything.)

Still, it's hard to take the NFL's new legions of decency too seriously - particularly in San Francisco, where the former owner of the 49ers (Edward DeBartolo) served two years' probation for a felony conviction and was fined $1 million by the NFL after failing to report a $400,000 payoff to Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards while seeking a casino license in the 1990s.

The NFL didn't become America's most profitable professional sports league by selling dairy products. Football has tapped into the spend-happy 18- to 35-year-old consumer demographic with scantily clad cheerleaders and sexy beer commercials. That's why the institutional angst about the Desperate Housewives intro was so laughably hypocritical.

That said, it's still quite a leap to lesbian hijinks and real strippers in the locker room ... even in the Bay Area.

Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter has been getting some static for the color scheme of "Trott's Spot," the car wash he owns in Cherry Hill, N.J. The canopies are burgundy and gold, which are the colors of the rival Washington Redskins.

Trotter opened the car wash when he was a member of the Redskins, but has been slow to change to Eagles green and silver because of the cost and some permit issues.

I may have to lay off Eagles fans, who seem downright normal compared to the company of Israeli troops that, according to Reuters, was disciplined recently because it forced its way into a Palestinian home and commandeered the satellite television to watch a soccer match between AC Milan and Liverpool.

Of course, if it had been the Hopkins-Duke lacrosse final, it would have been totally understandable.

Funny story line from Internet oddity clearinghouse Fark.com: "Fox announces location for American Idol 5 auditions: Chicago, Atlanta, Boston and Paula Abdul's bedroom."

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