Roger Goodell: Definitely Not the Smartest Guy in the Room

On Monday, Peter King quoted Roger 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 [Steeler] 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.’ ”

Monday night, King tweeted an “important clarification on the Goodell comments on Roethlisberger” and added, “I regret my error.”

Turns out, Goodell didn’t talk to two dozen Steelers players, none of whom came to Ben’s defense. Goodell talked to two dozen NFL players — non-Steelers — before handing down his six-game suspension.

King’s error — adding “[Steelers]” to the original quote isn’t the issue here. It was an honest mistake, King owned up to it, and in the scheme of things, it doesn’t change the fact that Goodell’s actions continue to reinforce the notion among a lot of us that his interests (and those of his constituents — the owners) aren’t in the long-term best interests of players and fans.

It doesn’t matter who Goodell talked to — Steelers players, players of the other 31 NFL teams, ball boys, Marshall Faulk — the problem is that he spoke publicly about it at all.

Virginia Montanez had the best take on this anywhere and basically it comes down to this:

My issue isn’t whether or not this is true. I’m 99% sure it’s true. Even if thirty Steelers players go to media day tomorrow and claim it isn’t true, let’s be real — There’s no reason for Goodell to lie about this, but the team has lots of reasons to lie about it, especially leading up to the biggest game of the season when team cohesion is vital.

Benny is/was a well-documented jerk, and I’m not surprised his team was fed up with his shenanigans at the time the suspension was being handed down.

My issue is that the whole quote, the timing of it, the fact that he dared to say it on the record? Reeks of douchebaggery and asshattery and flat out giant-assholeism.

That’s the thing. What’s the upside here? Pretty sure you can’t make Ben look like a bigger douchebag. And I can’t imagine Goodell restating the obvious will serve as a deterrent for other players, which, really, should be his primary concern, right? So again: why do it?

Rog: Seriously. You’re not going to sign my Big Ben jersey?
Ben: Read the shirt, dude. No. By the way, you have it on backwards.

While I don’t fault Peter King for the mistake, I do wish that somebody — anybody — would have their balls drop prior to interviewing Goodell. Newsflash: he’s not the president, or royalty or above in-his-face criticism.

One thing King did point out during a Monday interview with Mike Florio is that Goodell knows that “he’s not the smartest guy in the room,” while making a larger point about how the commissioner values hard work. This is something I think we can all get behind. No matter the room, there’s no way Goodell’s the smartest guy in it.

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  • DC in ATL

    So Goodell relied on the opinion of 24 of Roethlisberger’s opponents to help determine the suspension? Out of those twenty four players, how many directly benefited from Roethlisberger being out for some extended period of time? “It wasn’t personal in a sense, but all kinds of stories like, ‘He won’t sign my jersey.’ ” Wow, lock him up and throw away the key. I’m sure Big Ben is the ONLY player in the NFL who wouldn’t sign another player’s jersey, or some other courtesy like that (sarcasm alert for those who aren’t so inclined).

    We had to know that his off the field issues would be back this week, but from the Commissioner for crying out loud? Heck, the Commissioner of my fantasy football league is smarter than that….

  • SteelerBill

    Ok…so let’s look at this for a minute. If Ben ‘was a jerk’…then first of all so what…and second of all would you then rely on men that obviously don’t know Ben to determine if he should be suspended absent of facts in Georgia? Also, from what I understand, no Steelers were willing to fly to meet the commish about it and Farrior who did admit to speaking to Goodell said he spent most of the time asking Goodell questions and rec’d no answers.

    As I’ve stated on Twitter ad nauseum – Stay Classy Roger

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  • GlennW

    I’m making a point of not reading Peter King’s exclusive on Goodell in this week’s SI. King has spent most of this week slobbering over the high character that Goodell had instilled in him by his famous and respected father, etc. etc. And only Peter King– with a straight face momentarily pulled away from Goodell’s rear end– could *immediately* follow the quote below with Goodell’s blabbermouth ripjob on the players he’s disciplined as commissioner (from this week’s MMQB column):

    “He (Goodell) is a very well-trusted man,” Richardson said. “He has always given me a feeling that I could trust him, going back to when we in Charlotte were one of about eight cities vying for an expansion franchise. Either you have that or you don’t, and he protects confidence as well as anyone I’ve met.”

  • Jason F

    If anything, this will only serve to further focus the Steelers. They already don’t like Goodell, and now he’s given them a little more ammunition.

  • eddie

    you let peter king off the hook here waaaay too easily. you may say it’s an honest mistake, but the truth is, assuming [Steelers] players makes that story 47 times more significant. further, the fact that (a) king assumed it was stillers players that threw ben under the bus, and (b) king wasn’t surprised that czar goodell was calling out the [Steelers] players for calling out ben… (a) and (b) are what make this story reveal even more about the (lack of) character in king and goodell.

  • eddie

    you let peter king off the hook here waaaay too easily. you may say it’s an honest mistake, but the truth is, assuming [Steelers] players makes that story 47 times more significant. further, the fact that (a) king assumed it was stillers players that threw ben under the bus, and (b) king wasn’t surprised that czar goodell was calling out the [Steelers] players for calling out ben… (a) and (b) are what make this story reveal even more about the (lack of) character in king and goodell.

  • Anonymous

    So I was driving down to Annapolis to visit this little bar I know where a lot of the students like to go, and as I was passing through the charm city, I figured why not stop in for a chat about Big Ben? And let me tell you, I talked to I bet two dozen players … Not one, not a single player, went to his defense.

  • Hira

    Clearly Goddal , does not like the Steelers Winning onother Title. The Timing of the “Mean” comment is Dishonest!

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  • Lousmith238

    Viginia Montanez has “the best take”???? Why would Goodell lie? No, Virginia, he’s not Santa Claus. He’s been after the Steelers all year. If he had such a good case against Roethlisberger, why the need to lie? Or did Peter King lie?

  • justathought

    Goodell is not happy Ben (or the Steelers) got to the Superbowl. He did that interview and revealed his comments because he wanted to make that clear. The problem is that in trying to take Ben down a notch he indicated 53 other men who worked and played hard; and conduct themselves well off the field. Goodell views himself as the Monarch of football and King as, well, the KING of journalism. I hope they both topple like Yertle the Turtle. It is said hell hath no fury as a woman scorned…..I personally hope the same goes for “Steelers scorned” on game day.