The life of the NFL player has many aspects that are different from those of most people in society. They make more money than most. Their job performance is critiqued largely by people that have no real idea what goes into their work. And they have a profession in which grown men take group showers together.
At Wednesday's media session at Winter Park, people weren't asking Visanthe Shiancoe about his touchdown catch against the Lions Sunday. They weren't talking about Shiancoe having five touchdowns this season – a total that trails only perennial Pro Bowl players Tony Gonzalez (seven) and Antonio Gates (six).
No, the questions were seeking Shiancoe's response to what has become one of the stranger sports stories of the year. As is the custom with network TV, cameras are sometimes allowed into the locker room to hear a coach giving a postgame speech or handing out a game ball. Such was the case Sunday after the Vikings' 20-16 win in Detroit. Team owner Zygi Wilf was presenting a game ball to Brad Childress in honor of his son leaving for a stint in the Marines the following day. It was a moment that came from the heart – both from Wilf and a clearly moved Childress.
But what ended up getting so much attention was a single frame of video. As the FOX studio crew cut away to the scene in the Vikings locker room, as Wilf began speaking, Shiancoe was visible behind him pulling a towel around his waist. To the naked eye (pardon the pun), it didn't appear as though there was any full frontal nudity involved. However, in the age of DVRs and TiVo, that could be confirmed or denied. Upon further review, it was clear that in fact Shiancoe had been exposed with cameras running.
There has been something of a media furor over the incident since. It's unclear whether anything has happened to the person with FOX Sports who allowed the clip to air, which wasn't live according to initial reports, but just overlooked. Shiancoe said he was unaware he had been caught on camera at first, but that didn't last very long.
"My teammates right after the game showed me," Shiancoe said. "Within the hour, I knew about everything. I got a lot of calls from Texas – a whole lot."
As an NFL player, he is accustomed to walking around the locker room nude – in front of strangers, both male and female. That's just become part of the game.
It's one thing to have yourself exposed in the locker room. It's another when it shows up in people's living rooms and, for those interested who missed it, suddenly appearing on sites all along the world wide web. While taking it all with a smile and shrug, Shiancoe said he did have some concerns over the incident.
"It can be embarrassing because the whole world sees ‘the real you' should I say," Shiancoe said with a chuckle. "It's a little embarrassing because I just hope that not too many kids saw it. That's really my concern."
Since Sunday afternoon, Shiancoe's phone has been blowing up with text messages from friends and family giving him a good-natured beating over the exposure. He said some of the messages have made him laugh through what could be trying times.
"(The texts have said) things like, ‘Wow! I didn't know you had it like that,'" Shiancoe said. "I'm not hearing the end of it here in the locker room. It's no blessing. I'm trying to have a little sense of humor about it, but there's a serious side too – with the kids and all that kind of stuff. You don't want any kids seeing that."
In the days since the incident, Shiancoe has become a sideshow attraction for everything from radio talk show hosts to newspaper gossip columnists. He apparently holds no ill-will to the people at FOX Sports, who decided if they were going to show Shiancoe's exposed on TV, they would return the favor with a gift basket.
"Some people called from FOX and apologized," Shiancoe said. "They sent me a box of stuff – hats and shirts and towels. I guess to cover up. Maybe they should tell us, ‘We're about to go on live' before they make it live."
Like other stories of this nature, the attention his inadvertent flashing is receiving will die down and his life will return to normal. He hopes that when future flocks of reporters descend on his locker, it will be to ask question about touchdown receptions, not his feelings about being seen naked on television. But, his teammates aren't going to let it go so quickly. As Shiancoe was being interviewed, to the right of the media horde, fullback Naufahu Tahi stripped down to head to shower. But, as he dropped trou' he was quick to look around to make sure no cameras were pointed at him. The incident is over, but not forgotten.
Shiancoe has become the butt of jokes because of his front and, as an NFL player, he will likely hear about it in some form or another until the day he retires – and perhaps even afterward.
"Did you see him today?" long snapper Cullen Loeffler asked with a laugh. "When you guys were interviewing him, he not only had pants on, he had on two shirts. He may never get naked again."
Shiancoe handles the aftermath
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