- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- No sooner had the NFL ruled on Brett Favre's alleged harassment of a New York Jets employee and fined the team $100,000 over Tripgate when coach Rex Ryan had to face an additional question over embarrassing photographs of a woman purported to be his wife.
"It's a personal matter and I'm not going to discuss it," said Ryan.
His reaction echoed what he said last week when foot-fetish videos surfaced of a woman who looks like Ryan's wife, Michelle. In one video, the person who is filming sounds like Ryan himself.
The latest photos, published on the website MediaTakeOut.com, show the same woman having her feet fondled by a man who is not Ryan.
Jets players, while not commenting directly on the photos or videos, did talk about how it has become clear that they are living in a world where public scrutiny doesn't end when they take off the uniform.
"It's part of the deal, you live in a fishbowl," said linebacker Bart Scott, who played for Ryan when both were in Baltimore. "People think that they have the right because they watch the game on TV. They have an opinion on what they think you are or who they think you are. I think if you dig deep enough, you'll find that those people have more skeletons and things going on in their closets, in their personal lives, than the people they're criticizing."
Wayne Hunter said that Ryan himself said it was going to be like that this season, well before training camp.
"Coach warned us when 'Hard Knocks' came that people were going to try and scoop up some dirt on us," Hunter said. "And they've been able to do that."
The HBO documentary brought a new level of attention to the second-year Jets coach. Some of it was positive, but some people were put off by Ryan's use of profanity and his brash talk of winning a Super Bowl before a preseason game had been played.
Scott said he is particularly concerned by rumors circulating.
"You can put it out there and even if it is wrong, the damage is already done," he said. "They throw it out, there's no professionalism within it, it's all about shock-jock type of stuff."
Brandon Moore has been in the league since 2002, and he said the amount of scrutiny players are under has increased.
"It's getting worse," Moore said.
The Jets' right guard said each player has to know he can never let down his guard in an age when everyone has a cell-phone camera.
"You do have instances where you may be out and you may be having a drink or something, nothing wrong with drinking, and someone decides to take a picture," Moore said. "Little things like that that could be portrayed in the wrong way."
Players worry that every former high school friend or acquaintance with a story and a photograph -- whether real or not -- could trade it for a paycheck or 15 minutes of fame.
"I've learned to just not worry about stuff like that. If it comes out it comes out and you worry about it at that time," Hunter said. "If I continued to think about stuff like that, I'd drive myself insane."
Scott said he didn't see a reason to publish some of the items that now make news.
"It's done to hurt people," Scott said. "And what they don't realize is it hurts families. It hurts children and that's who it affects. But they don't care. They're sharks out to get a dollar."
Jane McManus is a reporter and columnist for ESPNNewYork.com.
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