During his annual state of the league address on Wednesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell seemed to indicate that he’d spoken with members of the New Orleans Saints, including players, after the fourth-quarter blown call in the NFC championship game.
According to the league’s official transcript of Goodell’s remarks, this is what he said: “Listen, we understand the frustration of the fans. I’ve talked to Coach Payton. The team, the players, we understand the frustration they feel right now, and we certainly want to address that.”
However, in watching the video, the league might have played with punctuation a bit (38 seconds in), because Goodell clearly gives the impression that he’d spoken to New Orleans coach Sean Payton and other members of the franchise:
Saints receiver Michael Thomas, for one, was quick to say that Goodell never spoke to players:
The NFL and Goodell have rightfully been criticized for their silence on the major mistake by referee Bill Vinovich’s crew; other than fining cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman for his helmet-to-helmet hit on New Orleans receiver Tommylee Lewis, which didn’t come with any kind of statement, there was no official addressing of the error before Wednesday.
And while some, like Thomas and former Saints lineman/current broadcaster Zach Strief, believe Goodell was lying, the NFL was quick to walk back Goodell’s comments.
On Thursday, ESPN Saints reporter Mike Triplett wrote that the league “clarified that commissioner Roger Goodell has not talked to Saints players – and that he was not claiming he talked to players during his Wednesday press conference.”
This isn’t the first time Goodell has been caught playing word games. Last year, he trumpeted that league owners voted “unanimously” on a new national anthem policy, only to have news quickly come that not only was there not a formal vote, neither San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York nor Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis took part.
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