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Writer clarifies Goodell's quote about players' take on Big Ben

The Pittsburgh Steelers arrived in Texas on Monday and immediately faced questions about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's comment that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wasn't supported by his teammates during last year's league investigation.

There was only one problem: Goodell didn't exactly say that.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King, who used the quote in question, issued a clarification Monday night, explaining that Goodell wasn't referring to Steelers players when he said "two dozen players" had no nice things to say about Roethlisberger.

"I erred in inserting the parenthetical 'Steelers' in a quote by Goodell, which was an incorrect assumption on my part," wrote King, who added, "I regret the error."

Goodell did tell King on Jan. 7: "Not one, not a single player, went to (Roethlisberger's) defense. It wasn't personal in a sense, but all kinds of stories like, 'He won't sign my jersey.'" However, those players weren't Steelers.

Goodell also told King that Roethlisberger was agitated with the six-game suspension he received in April for violating the league's personal-conduct policy. The ban ultimately was reduced to four games.

Roethlisberger was accused of sexually assaulting a Georgia college student following a night of drinking in a Milledgeville, Ga., bar on March 5. He wasn't charged by Georgia authorities.

Roethlisberger, who met with reporters Monday in Fort Worth, Texas, ahead of this weekend's Super Bowl XLV, said that some Steelers teammates did, in fact, defend him to Goodell.

"I know for a fact that when the commissioner came to the training camp and talked, a lot of guys, kind of, did," Roethelisberger said. "I'm just thankful, like I said, my teammates are who they are, and I'm really appreciative of them."

Asked to clarify Goodell's comments, Roethlisberger said: "I'm not sure, I wasn't there, so I don't know exactly what was said. So it's hard to say."

Reporters asked Roethlisberger about the perception that he has changed since serving his suspension.

"It has to do with a lot of things, you know, a lot of praying and talking to the Lord, and saying thank you for the opportunity that I get to play this game and, like I say, come back to the Super Bowl," he said.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin also spoke with reporters Monday and downplayed Goodell's comments.

"I don't know what he means, or you mean, by 'coming to his defense.' I don't know the nature of the conversation or the discussion," Tomlin said. "So, it's going to be difficult for me to comment on it, to be quite honest with you. Ben is a highly respected member of our football team."

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) rushes during an NFL football game between the between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

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