Jeff Halstead is the chief of police in Fort Worth, Texas. Last year, in the run-up to Super Bowl XLV in nearby Arlington, Halstead says Ben Roethlisberger promised his department a grant for a police dog on behalf of Roethlisberger's foundation. That grant never came. So Halstead wrote a letter saying Fort Worth cops were "saddened and very disappointed to hear the news that we were not awarded a Ben Roethlisberger Foundation grant." That letter somehow ended up in the hands of a Fort Worth television station, which went ahead and ran with what looked like the story of a rich pro athlete reneging on a promise made to the local community. That it involves Ben Roethlisberger, who's maybe done a few bad things in his day, made it look that much worse. Which is how the narrative went until the very end of the report, anyway.
Here's the background from the website for WFAA-TV:
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a foundation that provides grants to police and fire departments across the country to be used to purchase K-9s and to train their handlers. The department had to fill out an application for the grant, but the letter says "if they submitted the application, the funding would be rewarded."
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation denies any promises were made. A spokesperson for the foundation said the city's application was turned down due to to a large amount of requests.
Since 2007, the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has given nearly 100 grants, totaling more than $850,000, to organizations across the country.
And here's where the story gets interesting:
In a statement to News 8, the foundation's administrator, Stephanie Sandler, said "They sent us a letter expressing their disappointment and intention to inform the media. We have since attempted to contact them numerous times to discuss the matter. They have not returned our calls."
The cops denied making any such threat and said they never received any calls from the foundation. But by late last night, the TV station says, the cops "seemed to step back from their stance." No reason was given, but this statement was issued:
The department released a statement saying they "regret any misunderstanding between the Fort Worth Police Department and the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation."
A misunderstanding the world now knows about because Fort Worth police fired before they aimed.