The NFL players' union Monday suggested all members of the news media, male and female, be barred from locker rooms and separate interview areas be set up to assure privacy for the players.
"NFL players should be afforded absolute privacy in their locker rooms," Gene Upshaw, president of the NFL Players Association, said in a statement from his union's headquarters. "They should not be expected or required to participate in media interviews unless fully clothed."His statement follows two recent incidents involving female sports writers covering NFL teams. Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olson alleged that on Sept. 17 tight end Zeke Mowatt and several other Patriots approached her while they were naked in an attempt to embarrass her with lewd suggestions.
Also, Cincinnati Bengals Coach Sam Wyche barred USA Today's Denise Tom from entering his team's locker room Oct. 1. Wyche was fined $30,000 by the league.
Upshaw acknowledged female reporters must have the same access to players as male reporters. As a possible solution, he suggested a "separate area, removed from the locker room, where all players would be available on an equal basis to all accredited media, male or female."
While Upshaw's statement did not directly say all news media should be barred from locker rooms, an NFLPA official said that would be the result of creating a separate area for postgame interviews.
The official, who asked not to be identified, emphasized Upshaw was not being hostile toward the press, and said an interview area would place an equal burden on the players because they would have to go from the locker room to another part of the stadium.
Upshaw was on the road this week visiting players in Philadelphia, Chicago and other cities and was unavailable for comment.
The official said some players have expressed concern to the NFLPA following the Patroits and Bengals incidents.
Comments have ranged from "those who are very concerned about the lack of dignity and privacy all the way to the players who really don't care one way or another."