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Backtrack: Mendenhall Says He Was Trying to “Generate Conversation”

The pressure of again being lambasted by the media and fans must have gotten to Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, as he is now going back and saying “sorry” for some crazy posts about the recent US killing of Osama Bin Laden.

Mendenhall Wednesday posted a blog entry apologizing for and trying to clarify his tweets regarding Bin Laden’s death.

“I apologize for the timing as such a sensitive matter, but it was not meant to do harm. I apologize to anyone I unintentionally harmed with anything that I said, or any hurtful interpretation that was made and put in my name.”

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

He tried to clarify those comments Wednesday.

“This controversial statement was something I said in response to the amount of joy I saw in the event of a murder. I don’t believe that this is an issue of politics or American pride; but one of religion, morality, and human ethics,” he wrote.

After quoting a bible verse, he wrote: “I wasn’t questioning Bin Laden’s evil acts. I believe that he will have to face God for what he has done. 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.”

He apologized later in the posting and said he was just trying to “generate conversation.”

“I apologize for the timing as such a sensitive matter, but it was not meant to do harm,” he wrote. “I apologize to anyone I unintentionally harmed with anything that I said, or any hurtful interpretation that was made and put in my name.

“It was only meant to encourage anyone reading it to think.”

Rob Lefko of Priority Sports, which represents Mendenhall, confirmed that the running back wrote Wednesday’s blog post.

“This was truly, word for word, Rashard’s thoughts,” Lefko told blogger James Walker. “It was not written by anyone else and not crafted by anyone else.”

Mendenhall on Monday also posted a tweet making a reference to the September 11th attacks.

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

Mendenhall has since deleted his 9/11-related tweet. He didn’t address the tweet or its deletion in his blog posting Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Steelers president Art Rooney II released a statement regarding Mendenhall’s tweets.

“I have not spoken with Rashard, so it is hard to explain or even comprehend what he meant with his recent Twitter comments. The entire Steelers organization is very proud of the job our military personnel have done and we can only hope this leads to our troops coming home soon.”

On Wednesday, Mendenhall wrote that he in no way supports bin Laden or is “against the USA.”

“I understand how devastating 9/11 was to this country and to the people whose families were affected. Not just in the US, but families all over the world who had relatives in the World Trade Centers. My heart goes out to the troops who fight for our freedoms everyday, not being certain if they will have the opportunity to return home, and the families who watch their loved ones bravely go off to war.”

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. DrGeorge

    May 4, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Mendenhall’s public comments yesterday regarding 9/11 and Bin Laden’s death demonstrate a bewildering insensitivity and a blindness to reality. They prove once again, if further proof were necessary, the inverse relationship between celebrity and common sense. By education and experience, Mendenhall is only qualified to speak knowledgably about carrying a football. His political views deserve to be taken with a grain of salt, or less. His Twitter comments are news only because he is a public figure, a celebrity. Only his association with the Steelers makes his rambling opinions more newsworthy than those of the average barbershop know-it-all.

    Today, Mendenhall (no doubt with the aid of his agent and PR advisors) issued a carefully worded retraction, deleted the offensive 9/11 tweet, and apologized for any unintended harm (but not for his opinions). He claims, in effect, that he was trying to temper the national celebration of Bin Laden’s death with Christian charity (a commendable motive), but his argument for a moral or religious principle in the context of international terrorism seems almost as nonsensical as his original comment. But let’s be charitable. It appears the man had good intentions, but expressed himself poorly. So that ends the matter, right?

    Well, not so fast. Let’s take another look at what transpired.

    First, the tweet. One needs no credentials or logic to post a tweet. The internet is a democratic medium that permits the informed to post a reasoned opinion or a half-wit to display his ignorance. (Of course, no one is obliged to read them.) In cyberspace, where anyone can say anything, there will always be a delusional few who believe that the Earth is flat, that the Moon is made of green cheese, that Stalin was a humanitarian, that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was misunderstood, and that Bin Laden’s attacks on the West were morally justified. In the old days, people that delusional were placed in asylums. But today, if they are professional athletes and no immediate risk to themselves or others, they are permitted to roam free and mumble incomprehensibly to themselves. Mendenhall’s tweet yesterday seems nothing more than that – public mumbling – a pathetic attempt to explain the world to himself.

    Admittedly, Mendenhall has a constitutional right to express his views, however misguided or strange. On the other hand, the Steelers also have rights, including the right to cut an employee whose public statements injure or discredit the organization. Mendenhall has no constitutional right to continued employment. So, how should Steelers’ management handle Mendenhall, a player who has repeatedly made insensitive, bizarre, and offensive public statements that reflect adversely on the organization. Should the Steelers merely distance themselves from the comments? Or, as some suggest, cut him? After all, this isn’t his first offense.

    Let us keep in mind that this issue doesn’t begin or end with Mendenhall. Other players are as guilty as he. Consider Adrian Peterson’s daft analogy between pro football and slavery, or Ryan Clark’s inflammatory remarks about NFL management during the CBA negotiations. Should a team ever hold a player accountable for offensive public utterances? If so, where are the guidelines? Are wacky or offensive political views less or more harmful than if a player makes racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, sexually explicit, criminal, or threatening remarks? Should the analysis differ for each? If we cut one player for a tactless remark, can we logically avoid cutting many others? Bird brains with big mouths are epidemic in the NFL, it seems. But if the NFL eliminated every twittering half-wit, would there still be a league worth watching?

    I submit that public inanity is best left to the jury of public opinion. Fans and the general public have already reached their verdict on Mendenhall’s remarks. His intemperate tweets have already cost him untold millions in endorsements and fan support. Until the harm to the Steelers becomes more tangible than this, the punishment of public rebuke seems appropriate and sufficient.

  2. ben spiridigliozzi

    May 4, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Mendenhall needs to think before he talks. The Steelers should make a statement and get rid of him, obviously he would rather play for a team in Pakistan. Is he so insensitive and rude that he doesn’t remember people jumping off the World Trade Center just for a chance to live. He’s not Steeler material, he’s and uneducated disgrace.

  3. Nancy

    May 5, 2011 at 7:12 am

    I agree with Ben! Get rid of him…….. the Steelers do not need any more diversions with ‘bad boys’ after the last one. Enough is enough! The Steelers have always tried to keep a clean image and when a player seems to feel the way he does about our country and what our military does to keep us safe, he needs to be gone. He is a disgrace to the Steeler nation and to our country as well.

  4. Tim

    May 5, 2011 at 10:30 am

    The problem with America is that we form our opinions prior to knowing if we are asking the right questions. I salute Mendenhall as a patriot. Whether or not he is correct in his opinion, he at least has the guts to think.

  5. Matt Loede

    May 5, 2011 at 11:17 am

    The guts to think, but that thinking is what he needs to do a lot more of before hitting the keyboard.

  6. marie

    May 5, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I am a retired NYPD detective and lost personal friends that faithful day. I am curious, what is Bin Ladens “side” of the story?? He admitted that he masterminded and recruited the “people” who did this. I will bet you dollars to donuts, that mendenhall heard about all this nonsense in the public school system. Lert’s see, he is 23 and this happened 10yrs ago. He was 13, in the eight grade..Now you know why I pulled my kid out of the public school system!

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