Champion drops Mendenhall following controversial Twitter comments

Pittsburgh Steelers’ Rashard Mendenhall runs for a first down against the New York Jets during the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 23, 2011. The Steelers defeated the Jets 24-19 and will face the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

After reading about Steelers’ running back Rashard Mendenhall’s controversial comments regarding Osama bin Laden’s death earlier this week, I summed up my reaction piece with the following:

Just because we have a tongue and the freedom to use it, doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for what comes out of our mouths.

It hasn’t even been five full days since Mendenhall posted the comments on Twitter and already he’s paying the piper.

Michael McCarthy from USA Today reports that the athletic wear company Champion is ending its business relationship with Mendenhall following his remarks. Apparently Mendenhall has been with the company since 2008 and was scheduled to re-up with Champion through 2015. But instead, they’ve decided to cut all ties with the running back.

This is exactly what I meant earlier this week about Mendenhall suffering the consequences for his actions. Yes, he has the freedom to say what he wants in this country and yes, he has the right to speak his mind. But Champion also has the right not to give its money to someone who will tweet things like, “We’ll never know what really happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style.” (A statement that he actually deleted soon after posting it.)

Many football fans are irate over his comments too, so he hasn’t seen the last of the backlash. I don’t know if he has any other deals with sporting companies but if he does, I’m sure Champion won’t be the only one who kicks him to the curb.

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Rashard Mendenhall’s “clarification” doesn’t clear anything up

You knew it was coming: some sort of explanation or apology for Rashard Mendenhall’s comments regarding Osama Bin Laden’s death. He wrote an open letter on his (new?) blog, entitled Clarification.

Give it a read and come back…

Are you back? Great. Here we go:

I see how they have gotten misconstrued…

Oh, boy. Not a good start. As if the statements alone are not controversial — the reader or some third party has missed the point.

This controversial statement was something I said in response to the amount of joy I saw in the event of a murder… I was reflecting on our own hypocrisy. During 9/11 we watched in horror as parts of the world celebrated death on our soil. Earlier this week, parts of the world watched us in horror celebrating a man’s death.

Two things jump out about his argument here. First of all, we watched in horror as parts of the world celebrated death of innocents on our soil. Is it so wrong for us to celebrate that murderer’s death? For 10 long years, the spectre of Osama Bin Laden has hung over this country like a rain cloud, while he mocked us from afar. The United States has gotten into two separate wars using OBL/Al-Qaeda as justification, and it has had a terrible impact on our economy and life at home. What’s worse, this was the monster’s plan all along.

Maybe taking to the streets in celebration is not the most enlightened thing to do, but it’s certainly understandable that the U.S. population would feel an overwhelming sense of relief to know that the person ultimately responsible for bringing us so much pain has finally been brought to justice. It’s not so much that OBL is dead, it’s that we finally found him.

The other problem with Mendenhall’s clarification is that he completely glosses over the “We’ve only heard one side…” bit. What does that mean? To the average reader, it sounds like Mendenhall wants us to better understand OBL’s reasoning for attacking the World Trade Center that day. The thing is, we understand it. Mendenhall is the one that doesn’t get it. He says we haven’t heard OBL speak. Only we have, in countless recordings and video tapes.

Reading through the rest of his letter, it strikes me as odd that he would completely ignore this beauty:

This tweet was deleted, and Mendenhall is probably hoping that this one will just go away. But that’s the great thing about Twitter and “print screen” — anything you say has the potential to live on forever. Clearly, Mendenhall doesn’t believe that those airplanes took down the towers that day, and this belief might relate to his “We’ve only heard one side…” bit from before.

Mendenhall says things like “Those who judge others, will also be judged themselves” and “I believe in God. I believe we’re ALL his children. And I believe HE is the ONE and ONLY judge” yet isn’t he judging those who were happy to hear the news of OBL’s demise? What right does he have to criticize others?

Want some hypocrisy? There you have it.

Rashard Mendenhall should just stop tweeting

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall (34) celebrates his third quarter touchdown against the Green Bay Packers during the NFL’s Super Bowl XLV football game in Arlington, Texas February 6, 2011. REUTERS/Tim Sharp (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

I’ve come across tweets from professional athletes before where I just shake my head and think to myself, “Does he not know that everyone can read this?” But the string of comments that Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall has left on his Twitter page over the past day about Osama bin Laden’s death take the cake.

What kind of person celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side…

We’ll never know what really happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style.

Someone must have gotten to Mendenhall because he actually deleted that second tweet. But he continued, sermon-style…

I believe in God. I believe we’re ALL his children. And I believe HE is the ONE and ONLY judge.

Those who judge others, will also be judged themselves.

For those of you who said you want to see Bin Laden burn in hell and piss on his ashes, I ask how would God feel about your heart?

There is not an ignorant bone in my body. I just encourage you to #think

One of the greatest gifts this country has given us is the freedom of speech. Mendenhall has the right to his beliefs but as a fellow American, I have the right to react and voice my opinion about his comments.

I wasn’t interested in hearing bin Laden speak. This is a man that admitted to masterminding and funding the 9/11 plot and not only that, but bragged about it afterward. Thousands of people lost their lives that day and every red-blooded American was affected in some way but that tragedy. I’m saddened by Mendenhall’s comments, which were highly insensitive, especially to those who lost a loved one when the Twin Towers went down.

There will be some (maybe even many) that agree with Mendenhall’s take. That’s fine – they have the right to believe whatever they want, too. But I would once again like to point out that Mendenhall deleted the comment about how “a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style,” so clearly he did not #think when he posted that or else he wouldn’t have quickly removed it.

I don’t know Rashard Mendenhall personally, so I can only comment on his twitter posts, which I think were moronic, ignorant and misinformed. I also think they not only make him look bad, but the entire Pittsburgh Steeler organization and even the University of Illinois, where Mendenhall supposedly received an education. The reality is that he’s probably lost a ton of fan support and whether he cares about that or not, he will feel the effects of his words. Just because we have a tongue and the freedom to use it, doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for what comes out of our mouths.

Update: Mendenhall has posted a clarification which didn’t really clear anything up.

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