The New York Jets have already had an awful 2020 NFL season on the field. However, there are now disturbing reports coming out about something off the field. It isn’t just something from this season, either. The organization has reportedly had hidden cameras in the team’s locker room since 2008, potentially invading their players‘ privacy for years.
The New York Jets have reportedly had hidden cameras since 2008
According to the New York Daily News, Jets players and their reps told the NFL Players Association about what looked like surveillance equipment hidden in smoke detectors in the locker room. The NFL has reportedly claimed that the Jets have had cameras “in and adjacent to the locker room since 2008,” per the Daily News. The league has reportedly said that the players knew about the cameras, so the Jets were compliant with league rules.
However, it doesn’t appear that the players were, in fact, aware.
The New York Daily News spoke to multiple current and former players, including some from the 2008 team. None of them said that they were aware about the cameras being in the locker room. None of them said that they consented to being videotaped while in the locker room, either.
So, why are they in there, though? The Jets reportedly say that the cameras are in the team’s locker room for security reasons, per the Daily News.
The league has also reportedly said that the Jets aren’t required to take any further action because it does not believe that the team has broken any rules, according to ESPN.
Is it illegal to have hidden cameras in the locker room?
So, if the players, in fact, had no idea about these cameras, is this illegal? Yes, it could be.
According to the Daily News, a New Jersey statute was enacted in 2016 that has to do with the filming of people who are partially or fully naked. Here is part of what it says.
“An actor commits a crime of the third degree if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he photographs, films, videotapes, records, or otherwise reproduces in any manner, the image of another person whose intimate parts are exposed or who is engaged in an act of sexual penetration or sexual contact, without that person’s consent and under circumstances in which a reasonable person would not expect to be observed,” part of it reads, according to the Daily News.
That explanation makes it look like the players could certainly have a case against the team. The Daily News reported that people who have had their “intimate parts” videotaped without their consent could pursue civil actions. A big question, though, is whether the NFL locker room is considered a place where “a reasonable person would not expect to be observed.” How the word “observed” is defined could also matter when assessing the legality of the cameras, per the New York Daily News.
The Jets reportedly believe that they are in compliance with the state law, though, the Daily News reports.
Current and former New York Jets players aren’t happy
Many current and former players have not been happy since finding out about the hidden cameras.
One former player said that they were “pissed”. They also asked questioned why a camera would even be there, per the Daily News.
The Jets have reportedly said that, in the past, players have asked for security footage to help them find lost items. No players that the Daily News reached out to could remember a teammate asking for that, though.
However, ESPN reached out to four former players. Two of them said that they did not know about the cameras, while the other two said that they were aware. The two who were aware only had knowledge of the cameras due to incidents that involved security investigations.
While the Daily News reported that some players were angry and a current one called it “bizarre,” one former player was not surprised. This is due to strange things that have taken place under the team’s current leadership.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” that player said, according to the New York Daily News. “Some people over there are pretty worried about what’s done behind closed doors or in the locker room.”
The Players Union is reportedly trying to determine whether it should file a grievance or whether it should look to New Jersey employee privacy right laws, the Daily News reports. This would be so that the cameras get removed from the locker room.
The New York Jets have had a lot of trouble on the field, but they could soon be in some big trouble off the field. If players were truly unaware of the cameras in the locker room, they should absolutely feel violated. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.