Report: Goodell clarifies Big Ben quotes
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday it was "unfortunate" that comments he made about Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger were misconstrued, USA Today reported.
Super Bowl week kicked off Monday morning with a report by SI.com's Peter King in which he said that Goodell told him that Steelers players did not defend their quarterback during last year's scandal over an alleged sexual assault by Roethlisberger.
King later clarified the report, saying that Goodell was not talking about teammates of Roethlisberger, but rather players from other teams that he had spoken with. King also reportedly apologized to Steelers president Art Rooney II and head coach Mike Tomlin for the error.
"It's always unfortunate when something gets misreported and the facts are not clear," Goodell told USA Today during a telephone interview.
"I think Ben's committed to making the right decisions. He's doing a tremendous job of focusing on football and trying to win the Super Bowl, and I think the fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers appreciate that."
According to the SI.com report, Goodell said he spoke to about two dozen NFL players about Roethlisberger and could not find any willing to stick up for him.
"Not one, not a single player, went to his defense. It wasn't personal in a sense, but all kinds of stories like, 'He won't sign my jersey.' "
Following his investigation last April, Goodell suspended Roethlisberger for the first six games of this season, though the ban was later reduced to four.
When told of the original report that suggested his teammates did not have his back, the two-time Super Bowl winner disputed King's story.
Roethlisberger said Monday he knew "for a fact" that his teammates defended him in their interviews with Goodell.
Last March, the 28-year-old was accused by a college student of sexual assault following an incident at a night club. Authorities in Milledgeville, Ga., opted not to pursue charges in the case.
Roethlisberger was the first player to be suspended by Goodell under the league's personal conduct policy who had not been arrested or charged with a crime.