Posted by Will Brinson
UPDATE 11:37 p.m. EST: Peter King has issued a clarification on Goodell's lightning quote about how not one of "two dozen" Steeler players came to Roethlisberger's defense. Goodell was referring to two dozen NFL players in general, not two dozen Steelers.
FORT WORTH, TX -- Following Ben Roethlisberger's suspension to start the season, there was plenty of speculation that he wasn't the most popular person in the Steelers locker room.
On Monday, Peter King of Sports Illustrated posted in his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column a quote from Roger Goodell that emphasized just how little the Steelers had Ben's back.
"Not one, not a single player, went to his defense," Goodell said after revealing he talked to "two dozen" Steelers players. "It wasn't personal in a sense, but all kinds of stories like, 'He won't sign my jersey.'"
Roethlisberger, asked Monday about the report, didn't necessarily dispel the notion.
"I'm not sure," Roethlisberger said. "I wasn't there. I don't know exactly what was said, so it's hard to say."
The report obviously stings for Ben, but it's far more indicative of how Steelers players perceive their quarterback, making their responses far more interesting.
However, most of the players asked seemed to indicate they felt differently than King reported, including wideout Hines Ward.
Ward wasn't the only one, though.
"I was highly upset by this whole situation," linebacker James Farrior said. "When Roger Goodell came to us in teh preseason, I think I was the guy who asked him a lot of the questions about Ben. I was pretty upset about it.
I really didn't get any answers from him that I was looking for, but I was definitely disappointed in what the verdict was and how they proceeded."
Brett Keisel, he of the most amazing beard in the world, was even more emphatic with his defense of Roethlisberger.
"I've always had Ben's back," Keisel said. "Even when everything was going on, Ben and I have had a very good relationship.
We're close friends on and off the field. I think everyone was behind him. Everyone just didn't know how to respond to all the questions and all the scrutiny."
So maybe that's the answer -- no one knew how to respond. And that's logical, too, because of the situation with which they were approached.
Goodell was asking them to provide input on a player in a very sticky situation, involving an alleged act that was so squeamish it wasn't easy to broach in the media, much less in a one-on-one conversation with the man in charge of disciplining the entire NFL.
Or maybe the members of the Steelers didn't have Ben's back when they were asked before the season. That's acceptable, even if it's a little awkward.
Because at the end of the day, he's helped the team get a shot at their third Super Bowl ring since he took over as quarterback. And that means that -- all issues of personal redemption aside -- he's rehabilitated himself as a teammate and member of the Steelers workforce.
For a team charged with winning football games, there's not much more they can really hope to expect.
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