Brett Favre was fined $50,000 by the NFL for a "failure to cooperate" with its investigation into inappropriate messages and lewd photos he allegedly sent to former New York Jets employee Jenn Sterger, a decision her lawyer called extremely disappointing.
The league said Wednesday that Commissioner Roger Goodell "could not conclude" that Favre violated the league's personal conduct policy based on the evidence available to him.
"The forensic analysis could not establish that Favre sent the objectionable photographs to Sterger," the statement said. "The review found no evidence to contradict the statements of both Favre and Sterger that they never met in person, nor was there anything to suggest that Sterger engaged in any inappropriate conduct."
The decision comes a couple of weeks after Favre's NFL record for consecutive starts was snapped at 297 and ahead of the season finale for the 41-year-old Minnesota Vikings quarterback, who will play what might be his last game — if he's healthy enough.
The NFL said its sole focus was on whether Favre violated workplace conduct policy, not to "make judgments about the appropriateness of personal relationships."
Favre's fine will help fund a new training program on workplace conduct around the NFL, Goodell said in a memo sent to clubs Wednesday, though for the multimillionaire quarterback the penalty is a pittance.
"It clearly shows that an NFL star player was given preferential treatment and tells all other players that failure to cooperate may cost you some money but will not result in other punishment," said Sterger attorney Joseph Conway, who added that there was "ample evidence" the photos were of Favre.
"Additionally, today's decision is an affront to all females and shows once again that, despite tough talk, the NFL remains the good old boys' league."
Goodell determined Favre was "not candid in several respects during the investigation resulting in a longer review and additional negative public attention for Favre, Sterger and the NFL," the league's statement said. The NFL's investigation began in early October.
Reaching a conclusion in the case dragged out because of difficulties in setting up interviews with "certain key individuals," the complication of retrieving and reviewing electronic records and Goodell's decision to meet with both Favre and Sterger before reaching a conclusion, the NFL's statement said.
Vick's status is uncertain
Eagles Coach Andy Reid said he hasn't decided if Michael Vick's leg bruise will keep the quarterback out of Philadelphia's regular-season finale against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Vick sustained a bruised quadriceps on the first play of the Eagles' 24-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday night.
Reid described Vick as feeling tight and sore Wednesday, but the Eagles did not say which leg is hurt.
"I'm not even sure he can get back from what he's got here with the quad," Reid said.
Vick said after the game he tried to "tolerate" the injury and get through the game.
The Eagles don't need Vick to play Sunday. They are locked into the NFC's No. 3 seeding and will play host to the sixth-seeded team Jan. 8 or 9. Their final game against the Cowboys is meaningless in the standings, so it's likely Vick and most of the starters will rest.
Sanchez might not play
Rex Ryan is unsure whether Mark Sanchez will play in the New York Jets' regular-season finale against the Buffalo Bills.
The Jets coach said he was leaning toward playing Sanchez "some," but might not make a decision on the sore-shouldered quarterback until before the game Sunday at New Meadowlands Stadium. The Jets (10-5) have clinched a playoff berth.
Sanchez said he is preparing to start, but he was limited at practice with a sore right shoulder, the same ailment that bothered him last week. He was injured in the Jets' win at Pittsburgh on Dec. 19, but played well through it — as he did against Chicago last Sunday.
Both Ryan and Sanchez say the shoulder is further along than it was at this time last week.
Willis' start streak will end
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis had a second surgical procedure this week on his broken right hand. He will miss a start for the first time in his four-year career in Sunday's season finale against Arizona.
"I don't want to talk about it," Willis said in the locker room Wednesday, his hand heavily wrapped.
Willis, who played the last two games with a bulky cast on his hand, was voted to his fourth Pro Bowl on Tuesday. It's unclear if he will play for the NFC squad in the game at Honolulu on Jan. 30. Willis planned to talk to San Francisco's team doctors before making a decision. He missed the 2010 game with an inflamed right knee that later required surgery.
Meanwhile, interim 49ers Coach Jim Tomsula said Alex Smith will start at quarterback Sunday. Smith was benched for last Sunday's game at St. Louis in favor of Troy Smith.
The New England Patriots signed wide receiver Buddy Farnham to their practice squad. … The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put rookie receiver Arrelious Benn on injured reserve and promoted defensive tackle Doug Worthington from the practice squad. … Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola said the team fined him $15,000 for his actions after beating the Miami Dolphins. Raiola was filmed responding to a fan in Miami with obscene words and a hand gesture as he walked off the field Sunday after the Lions' 34-27 win. … Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard will sit out the season finale at Houston because of a finger injury. Trent Edwards is likely to start in Garrard's place. … New York Giants leading receiver Hakeem Nicks is likely to sit out New York's regular-season finale against the Washington Redskins because of a broken big toe on his left foot.