The earliest part of Super Bowl week is the nuttiest; with so many media running around trying to fill space so long before there's something concrete fill space with; so, if it's Tuesday, we must have our first Super Bowl controversy - and that's before the zaniness of Media Day today. We've got that, some interesting comments about Tiger Woods and the secrets of the Sedin twins' success and the best pre-game speeches ever captured on film, so we'll get on with things.
1. Peter King starts the first big brouhaha of Super Bowl week - by accident
One of the first rules about journalism is that the reporter is not supposed to be part of the story. This rule gets thrown out the window when it comes to Peter King, Sports Illustrated's senior NFL writer. He is a brand until himself; with a half-million followers on Twitter; so respected in his field that he was recently the subject of an episode of HBO's Real Sports.
So when King teased his upcoming profile on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell with this nugget in his Monday Morning Quarterback blog, it stirred things up. In reference to his role as the league's disciplinarian and his decision to suspend Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for six games (later four) to start the season, King quoted Goodell as saying: "The one thing I take a little bit of issue with is when guys tell me they're being screwed,'' Goodell said. "[Most often]they're not recognizing they have a role in it.'' Regarding Roethlisberger, Goodell said when he was investigating what to do with the quarterback, he talked to "I bet two dozen players ... 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.' ''
That's an amended quote; the original read like Goodell said two-dozen Steelers, with Steelers in parantheses added by King.
That set things off: nearly half of the Steelers roster sold out their quarterback to the commissioner?
Rothelsberger defended himself: I know for a fact that when the commissioner came to training camp to talk, a lot of guys kind of did."
And then King had to clarify things: This is an important clarification of something I wrote in my "Monday Morning Quarterback'' column. I erred in inserting the parenthetical "Steelers'' in a quote by Goodell, which was an incorrect assumption on my part.
In a Jan. 7 interview for a larger profile on Goodell for this week's issue of Sports Illustrated, Goodell was talking about his deliberations for the Roethlisberger sanctions last year, when the Pittsburgh quarterback was accused of sexual misconduct in connection with an incident at a Georgia bar. Goodell said when he was investigating what to do with Roethlisberger, he talked to "I bet two dozen players ... 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.' ''
I inserted the word "Steelers'' in parentheses, though Goodell had not told me specifically he meant to refer to two dozen Steelers players.
My question prior to his answer referred to the "many people I know in Pittsburgh'' who "want him on the Steelers.'' I thought Goodell was referring to speaking with two dozen Steelers. He clarified late Monday that he was not referring to the Steelers specifically.
I regret the error.
2. There are going to be a lot of stories about Roethlisberger as a changed man; this is why he had to change:
This feature on the Steeler's quarterback by Sports Illustrated captures an entitled meathead in full flight. Time will tell if Roethlisberger is a changed man or not; but read this and it's easy to understand why he had to at least try to mend his ways; this is an off-the-record assessment of the face of the Steelers franchise from one of his friends, keep in mind: Roethlisberger's reputation in Pittsburgh is not only a matter of an us-against-Ben war waged by service people. SI spoke at length with a friend of Roethlisberger's, who gets along with the quarterback but who is pained by his behavior. When they're out together, the man, who didn't want his name used, sometimes feels obligated to apologize to waiters and bartenders whom Roethlisberger has treated like garbage. He says he shakes his head when he sees Roethlisberger "disrespect" women in bars. (He has never seen any sign of sexual impropriety.) He is embarrassed by Roethlisberger's pettiness and immaturity during pickup basketball games-he says Big Ben will whine about team selection, talk mean-spirited trash and flex his biceps when he makes a good play. He despairs when he sees Roethlisberger blow off attempts by older Steelers, such as Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw, to give him advice. He doubts that Roethlisberger's closest buddies tell him anything except what he wants to hear.