FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.(CBS/AP) Pete Townshend of "The Who" defended himself Thursday against some children's advocates who say he should not be performing at Sunday's Super Bowl halftime show because of his 2003 arrest in a United Kingdom pedophilia sting.
Photo: Pete Townshend, left, and Roger Daltrey, right, of "The Who."
"The Who" gave an energetic, acoustic preview of their set this week, but things turned serious when Townshend was asked about the criticism.
"I've been really saddened by it, and concerned about it. It's an issue that's very difficult to deal with in sound bites," the legendary guitarist said at an NFL news conference dedicated to the Super Bowl's entertainers.
"I kind of feel like we're all on the same side, I guess that's all I can really say," he said.
Photo: "Protect Our Children" flyer warning Florida residents about Pete Townshend.
Townshend was cleared by British officials after the arrest.
He accessed a Web site containing child pornography but said it was for research for his own campaign against child porn.
Photo: "The Who," from left, Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon.
He was required to register as a sex offender, despite being cleared.
Because of that, groups like Protect Our Children have protested the choice of The Who, the legendary group featuring Townshend and Roger Daltrey. The group even sent 1,500 "sex offender advisory" postcards to homes and schools, warning residents to watch out for Townshend.
But Townshend said he has been a children's advocate for decades and alluded to his own confession of being abused as a child.
"For a family that has suffered the issue of childhood abuse or anything of that sort, vigilance, common sense vigilance is the most important thing, not vigilantism," he said. "Anybody that has any doubts about whether I should be here or not should investigate a little bit further."
"The Who" showed no performance anxiety as they performed three of their classic hits: "Behind Blue Eyes," "Pinball Wizard" and "Won't Get Fooled Again."
Both Daltry and Townshend admitted to knowing little about American football and Daltrey said he'd never been to an NFL game before.
But his lack of knowledge didn't prevent him from picking sides. He said he was partial to the New Orleans Saints because "New Orleans could use a little bit of luck."
After hearing Daltrey's bid for New Orleans, Townshend said: "Then I guess I'll go for the Colts."
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK: Should Pete Townshend, former registered sex offender, be allowed to perform at the Super Bowl?
MORE ON CRIMESIDER
January 29, 2010 - Pete Townshend Super Bowl Warning: NFL Asked to Ban "The Who" Halftime Show Over Sex Arrest