Brett Favre, recovering from a concussion, began what could be the final week of his long NFL career with another hit: a $50,000 fine after a lewd text-messaging scandal.
On Wednesday, the NFL said that Commissioner Roger Goodell "could not conclude" that Favre violated the NFL's personal conduct policy given the evidence available to him.
"This has been a messy story from the get-go ... and it's a messy ending to the story. I don't know if anybody is happy with it except maybe Brett Favre, who has gotten away ... with a slap on the wrist," ABC News sports contributor Christine Brennan said on "GMA" today.
The fine was intended to reprimand Favre for not being "candid in several respects during the investigation, resulting in a longer review and additional negative public attention," the league said.
"Brett Favre not cooperating, that's significant, that's not just a little laugh-it-off kind of thing," Brennan said. "Why didn't Roger Goodell, who is a get-tough commissioner, why didn't he suspend Brett Favre for the presumably final game of his career [and] send a big statement to NFL players that this is unacceptable."
The scandal began in early October when the website Deadspin first posted voicemails allegedly sent from Favre to Jenn Sterger, a former game day reporter for the New York Jets. The voicemails and inappropriate pictures were allegedly sent to Sterger in 2008 when both were working for the Jets.
In the voicemails, Favre is heard inviting Sterger to his hotel. Favre has admitted to leaving the voicemails but not to sending inappropriate pictures of himself.
Officials from the league said that forensic evidence gathered during the nearly three-month investigation did not establish that Favre sent the objectionable photographs to Sterger.
While Sterger cooperated with investigators, she has not commented on the case publicly.
Sterger's attorney called the fine and outcome of the investigation disappointing.
"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," attorney Joseph Conway said in a statement.
The $50,000 fine is a pittance for Favre; he makes that much in about five minutes of game time. Favre's base salary for this season is $11.6 million.
"In any other corporate or business workplace, if someone would have been investigated for sexual harassment and refused to cooperate, they'd be fired," ESPN legal analyst Roger Cossack said. "You wonder why the NFL even bothered."
Sterger's attorney hasn't commented on whether he and his client plan to file a workplace harassment lawsuit, but Cossack said that it's certainly a possibility.
"I think she has a case that could go to court. While he [Favre] wasn't her direct boss, it's clear that he was much higher up the food chain of the Jets organization than she was," Cossack said.
The NFL also said it reviewed media reports that Favre had made passes at two massage therapists who worked for the New York Jets, but that "people with relevant information" refused to be interviewed.
Favre is not commenting on the scandal.
Minnesota Vikings players had Wednesday off when the fine was issued, but interim coach Leslie Frazier said he "never put a lot of energy or focus" on the situation.