Jets officials say massage therapists overplaying ties to team

NEW YORK -- Two massage therapists who say the New York Jets blacklisted them for objecting to alleged text messages from former quarterback Brett Favre are overplaying their ties to the team, the Jets say in court documents.

Shannon O'Toole and Christina Scavo worked for the team on a combined total of five days over two years, Jets officials say. The team wasn't told about the women's concerns and simply took its massage business elsewhere when its training facility moved in 2008, team officials, lawyers and another massage therapist say in court filings.

"The relationship (with the team) they seek to portray could not be further from the truth," Jets lawyer Gary H. Glaser wrote in response to a lawsuit filed by the massage therapists. A court date is set for next week.

Favre, now retired after spending his 20th NFL season with the Minnesota Vikings, hasn't replied to the lawsuit. His agent didn't immediately return a call Friday.

The Jets' response doesn't discuss the three-time MVP's alleged behavior during his 2008 season with the team. Favre's stint with the Jets also spurred an NFL investigation into allegations that he sent lewd messages and photos to a former Jets game broadcast hostess. Commissioner Roger Goodell said in December he couldn't conclude from the available evidence that Favre had violated league policy, but the quarterback was fined $50,000 for not being forthright with investigators.

The NFL also said it couldn't substantiate claims made in media reports that Favre had pursued two massage therapists who worked at the Jets' facility.

Days after Favre's fine was announced, Scavo and O'Toole sued him, the team and Lisa Ripi, another massage therapist who worked with the Jets and had recruited O'Toole.

During the 2008 preseason, Favre sent a fourth, unidentified massage therapist a text message asking to get together with her and Scavo and saying, "I guess I have bad intentions," according to the lawsuit, filed in a Manhattan state court.

After Scavo's husband asked Favre to back off and apologize, she and O'Toole got no more work with the team, the lawsuit says. They'd made a combined total of $2,300 from the Jets, according to the team's court filings.

The Jets say they never guaranteed ongoing work to any massage therapist. The team started bringing them in occasionally during 2007, making their services available for free to all players on preseason "recovery days" and at other points for players whose performance "earned" them a massage, athletic training director John Mellody said in court filings.

The Jets' training camp moved in September 2008 to Florham Park, N.J., from Hofstra University on New York's Long Island, where O'Toole and Scavo live. Massage therapists were told their New Jersey-based colleagues would get the work from then on, Ripi said in a statement filed last month.

"All of the massage therapists, myself included, were very sad because working with the Jets was an amazing experience," she said. But players continued hiring her for work at the new facility, she said.

Scavo and O'Toole lawyer David Jaroslawicz said Friday they didn't initially complain to the Jets management because they were trying to keep the work, and the fact that they were independent contractors doesn't excuse their treatment. They say the team invoked the move as a cover for dropping them.

Scavo and O'Toole are seeking unspecified damages.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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