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Towel Company Helps NFL Players Cover Up After Locker Room Dispute

November 2, 1990

BARABOO, Wis. (AP) _ McArthur Towels workers have learned that their one-size-fits-all, wrap- around robes don’t fit everyone.

The National Football League wants the Baraboo company to provide 2,100 terry-cloth robes and wraps for players so female reporters won’t face any more locker-room interference.

″The Green Bay Packers equipment manager called and said the terry wrappers we sent weren’t large enough to fit five of their 300-pound players,″ said Greg McArthur, executive vice president of the family business. He said the company has been doing custom work for larger players.

″It’s been hectic,″ McArthur said.

The mass order was prompted by locker-room incidents involving women reporters covering the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed.

He said the league wanted players to have their privacy, but wasn’t reconsidering its policy letting reporters into locker rooms to interview players after games.

″It’s always been (the NFL’s) position that players are entitled to privacy,″ he said. ″We haven’t had any problems except for those two isolated incidents.″

McArthur Towels, a 100-year-old company, is to provide $40,000 in robes and wrap-arounds, towels that can be secured around the waist with Velcro closures.

The NFL has 28 teams, with 47 active-roster players each, amounting to more than 1,300 players. Teams also maintain practice squads. Each team is required to order 75 coverups of some sort.

The first shipments have been sent out and are being worn in the locker rooms, NFL officials said.

″We appreciate the wrap-arounds but you can do that with a towel or anything else,″ said Green Bay head coach Lindy Infante. ″Each player has to handle the situation his own way.″

Infante called the locker-room dispute ″comical.″

″It’s an insignificant thing. The whole business of females in the locker room and towels is so unrelated to what we do for a living,″ he said.

In late September, Boston Herald sports reporter Lisa Olson reported being harassed by some Patriots players. The league is investigating the incident. In early October, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Sam Wyche denied USA Today sportswriter Denise Tom access to his team’s locker room. Wyche brought players outside for the woman to interview, after allowing men reporters inside. The NFL fined him about $30,000.

Wyche wasn’t wild about the wrap-arounds.

″They are handy, I suppose,″ Wyche said. ″They look nice.″

But ″The problem is not really solved by the wrap-arounds because you can’t take a shower in a wrap-around and in some stadiums the showers are in the line of sight of the locker rooms,″ Wyche said.

″And when you get to your locker, you’ve got to take it off to get dressed,″ he said.

Aiello said players won’t be required to wear towels or wraps while reporters are in the locker room. ″They’re available if they want to use them,″ he said.

McArthur Towels has been supplying NFL towels, robes and wraps for five years but this is the first time the company has been ordered to ship supplies to every team at the same time, McArthur said.

The robes and wraps are being produced in the team colors or in white, and include the team’s logo, he said.

McArthur said it usually takes about three and a half yards of fabric to make a standard-size, 24-by-54-inch wrap. He said the company is extending the waist line by eight inches for larger players.

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