CINCINNATI -- An NFL Network official expressed regret Monday afternoon for what he called a production mistake that led to several naked Cincinnati Bengals players being seen in the background of an interview on the network following Sunday's game at Buffalo.
Just minutes after the 6-0 Bengals' 34-21 win, NFL Network reporter Albert Breer was interviewing cornerback Adam Jones when a few of Jones' teammates were caught on camera changing behind him or walking toward the showers. The interview lasted for about a minute, and completely undressed players were seen in the background throughout.
Although the interview appeared in a live postgame show, the segment was taped. When the network moved from the interview to a full-screen graphic outlining quarterback Andy Dalton's strong play this season, the show's anchors were clearly aghast.
"What an interview," one said. "That was interesting," another added.
NFL Network vice president of communications Alex Riethmiller said Monday that "it was a regrettable mistake by our production team."
"We've already done a pretty thorough review of the procedures and processes that were dropped along the way to make sure it doesn't happen again," Riethmiller told Bengals media on a conference call.
Riethmiller added that implied in the statement was an apology "to everybody that was affected: to the players, to the organization, to the viewing public, first and foremost."
The apology did little to calm concerns Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth raised in a series of Monday morning tweets and during his interview with reporters later in the day in a mostly empty Bengals locker room in Cincinnati.
"This is a big issue for me," said Whitworth, the Bengals' union player rep and one of the players shown. NFL Players Association president Eric Winston also plays for the Bengals but wasn't present in Cincinnati's locker room during open media access Monday.
"I've pressed this issue before with our union and the fact I think it's wrong," Whitworth said of media being present in locker rooms postgame. "This is my office space. I shouldn't have to change in it and be in front of people I don't know or really don't have any purpose of being near me other than the fact they are interviewing other people.
"If I was a woman, this would be a completely different subject, and it would be a complete firestorm. We can't always just serve women and everyone else. Men deserve a right too. We have rights. We have privacy. We deserve all the things we want, as well. As a man, I think it's right the policy is changed."
Like the NFL, the WNBA has a policy of allowing its postgame locker rooms to open after a 10-minute cooling-off period.
"It's not like it bothers me personally," Whitworth said. "[But] you can't judge us off who we will and won't accept into our locker room and then say all these things we have to do, but then also put us in a situation where every single day I have to change clothes and be naked or not in front of media. It's just not right. There's no office. There's no other situation in America where you have to do that. It's dated, it's old, and it needs to change."
Whitworth suggested players pre-requested by media could be brought to other areas of the stadium, where they could be placed in front of cameras in a more presentable fashion. Many college football programs operate this way -- bringing select, fully dressed players to various areas designated for postgame interviews.
The 10-year Bengals veteran said he spent all morning thinking of the ridicule that would have gone on with his kids at school, had they been of a certain age. Whitworth didn't feel that was fair to them.
"We have procedures in place, but unfortunately those rules were not followed in this instance," Riethmiller said. "There will certainly be a brushing up of the protocol to make sure everyone's 100 percent clear of what it is and how it operates and to make sure we don't drop it again on something like this."