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NFL: Be respectful to women reporters

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Reporter: I did nothing to provoke Jets
  • The NFL is reminding players and other league employees that women journalists should be treated with respect
  • The reminder comes in the wake of allegations that sports reporter Ines Sainz was harassed
  • The NFL is also warning players that women reporters must be granted the same access as men
  • Sainz received an apology from the Jets owner after an incident last Saturday

(CNN) -- The National Football League has sent a memo to all 32 of its teams, reminding players and league employees that female reporters should be treated professionally and with respect.

The note comes on the heels of news that the New York Jets team is investigating allegations of harassment by team members toward television sports reporter Ines Sainz.

The memo cites the NFL's Media Relations Playbook, which states that "by law, women must be granted the same rights to perform their jobs as men. Please remember that women reporters are professionals and should be treated as such."

Among other things, the playbook stresses that "it is important to you and this organization that you present yourself to the media in a manner and style in which you yourself would like to be received and treated."

The memo also notes that "barring individual members of the regularly accredited media ... for what is perceived as 'unfair coverage' or any similar reason is not permitted."

It is still unclear what exactly happened when Sainz, from the Mexican network TV Azteca, entered the Jets locker room last Saturday after practice but Sainz told CNN's Rick Sanchez on Monday that from the moment she entered, she felt all eyes were on her.

"I feel [a] little uncomfortable because evidently it is not easy to be in the locker room and hear and notice that everybody is speaking about you," Sainz said.

CNN was not able to contact anyone else in the locker room at the time but Sainz said that a female colleague took her aside and expressed concern and embarrassment for the situation she was in. But Sainz said she was just trying to focus on her job, and not the joking and talking going on behind her.

"But I really know that she heard something that I didn't hear, and the rest of the media that was inside heard things that I didn't hear," Sainz told CNN.

The Association of Women in Sports and Media spoke out Monday on Sainz' behalf, calling for a sharp rebuke. "If Jets players, coaches and staff allegedly involved in the incident are found to have acted in unprofessional and harassing behavior toward Ms. Sainz, we expect and demand reprimand and punishment by the NFL and Jets," the association said in a statement.

The Jets released a statement on Sunday saying, "We will continue to work with the league to gather the facts and take any appropriate steps necessary to maintain a respectful environment for the media."

Sainz confirmed in her interview on CNN's "Rick's List" that Jets team owner Woody Johnson called her personally to stress that all Jets members are expected to act professionally and to extend courtesy to members of media regardless of gender.

Sainz told CNN that she accepted the apology from Johnson and that she also made a statement to the NFL about the incident.

Although Sainz at first seemed surprised by the attention she was garnering, she told CNN that she does not believe this type of behavior is acceptable.

"I think that it's not good that these kinds of things happen and it mustn't happen anymore," Sainz told CNN. "Everyone knows that a woman or a man deserves the same treatment in the locker room."

CNN's Chris Kokenes and Alan Silverleib contributed to this report