Jets linebacker Bart Scott and reporter Dan Leberfeld exchanged angry words Friday afternoon during the locker-room interview session when the 6-2, 242-pound linebacker had to be restrained by a team official from going after him.
The incident began when Leberfeld, who runs a magazine called "Jets Confidential" and has covered the team for 18 seasons after previously working for the Jets in public relations, took a photo of Scott as he was talking to a female reporter from ESPN on his way out of the locker room. On Wednesday, Scott cursed at Leberfeld when he snapped a picture of the linebacker speaking with another female reporter, who broke into tears and ran out of the locker room. According to a team source, that was the spark that lit Scott’s fuse when Leberfeld took his picture again on Friday.
“Why are you taking a picture of me again?” demanded Scott, who hasn’t been talking formally to reporters but has maintained a friendly byplay with some beat writers off the cuff.
“Because I want to,” Leberfeld answered.
“Get a life,” Scott shot back.
“You get a life,” Leberfeld riposted. (Okay, so, this isn’t exactly the round table at the Algonquin Hotel).
“I’ll smack the ---- out of you,” Scott yelled as a team official stepped in front of him to cut off his path to Leberfeld.
“I’ll sue you,” Leberfeld said.
A few more words passed between the two, but the team official steered Scott toward the door.
After the locker room was closed, Leberfeld quickly left the premises and turned up a few minutes later recounting the incident in radio interviews with WFAN’s Mike Francesa and with Sirius XM NFL host Adam Schein. Together, they constituted the proverbial 15 minutes.
The Jets issued this statement Friday afternoon: "We work hard to foster an appropriate working environment. We regret this incident occurred and are reviewing the matter.”
The NFL has no plans to examine the incident since the Jets are conducting their own investigation, according to a league spokesman.
Explaining why he took the photos of Scott in a WFAN interview later in the day, Leberfeld said, “Bart is not speaking to the media, and this was a reporter attempting to negotiate with him to get him to speak. So, I thought, ‘That’s a good photo for something I’m writing.’ ”
Asked on Sirius XM if he worried about fighting Scott, Leberfeld said, “No, no, no. Let’s be honest. If a player punches me, there’s going to be a lawsuit, and they have so much to lose. I’m not looking for that ... I never thought it was going to get to that point.”