Long-time Pittsburgh sports columnist Gene Collier said it best in a column today when describing Santonio Holmes and Rashard Mendenhall: “Twitter Dumb and Twitter Dumber.”
Santonio Holmes actions on twitter last off-season wasn’t the only reason the Steelers decided to cut ties with him. A failed drug test and issues with head coach Mike Tomlin in the locker room were among them, but what his actions on twitter did was lead the Steelers to look much more closely at his character.
Twitter is a dangerous avenue for athletes and like with the Holmes situation, you can sometimes get an inside look at who the person is.
Holmes did more damage to himself on twitter than just the “wake and bake” comment. Well before that comment, Steelers officials off the record were saying that they were embarrassed by his actions and views on things.
Rashard Mendenhall is heading down that same road.
At age 23, Mendenhall is an emerging star in this league. His roster spot in 2011 is not in trouble but now he’s put himself in the spot where getting a contract from the Steelers following the end of his rookie deal in 2012 could be jeopardy.
The Steelers are going to be looking extremely closely at Mendenhall’s character from here on out.
As good as a running back Mendenhall might be developing into, the Rooney’s may look at him as a “person” who they’re not comfortable giving a multi-million dollar extension too.
Mendenhall has always been viewed as a “strange guy” and had difficulties fitting in with his teammates most notably in his rookie season. That doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy but he’s different than a lot of his teammates.
Mendenhall views himself as a “conversationalist” and a “thinker”. He’s very opinionated and some have called him an Islamic Thinker.
“Very strange. Don’t like him, ” a longtime Steelers observer told me on Tuesday who has covered all three of Mendenhall’s seasons and has dealt with him in the locker room.
On twitter Mendenhall is an avid follower of @IslamicThinking. A twitter account that portrays itself as “Islamic thoughts & quotes to make you think.”
Mendenhall often retweets daily quotes from the IslamicThinking account and in reviewing his twitter account, you get an idea of who Mendenhall is as a person. It’s clear that from most NFL players, he’s obviously very different.
However, the main issue is that what his twitter account has done is for the Steelers to really see Mendenhall’s character out in the forefront and as the Osama Bin Laden comments are evidence, that’s not a good thing.
People have a right in America to say what they want but doesn’t mean others and for Mendenhall’s case, your employer have to condone it.
Despite trying to clarify his comments in a blog entry today, I’m sure the Rooney’s are not feeling any better about the situation.
What has gotten misconstrued about Mendenhall’s comments was that his initial comment had nothing to do with his views about 9/11. Defenders of Mendenhall’s comments have tried to make his comments about 9/11 and say “a lot of people don’t think Osama was behind 9/11. He’s not alone, ” one tweeter said to me.
His views on 9/11 didn’t come about until he retweeted a message to him from @dkeller23 who said he’s not convinced Bin Laden was behind the attacks. Mendenhall responded “We’ll never know what happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style, ” Mendenhall said.
Whether Mendenhall feels 9/11 was an inside job by the government doesn’t bother me as much (that’s his opinion, whatever) but the core issue was his initial remarks on what some can arguably portray as support for Bin Laden: “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.”
The key phrase in that is “It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side.”
Mendenhall is portraying that comment into his religious beliefs that people shouldn’t celebrate death. I view the phrase “It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side, ” as someone who I don’t want to say is a supporter of Osama Bin Laden but someone who clearly was coming to the defense of Bin Laden.
Mendenhall has made his own bed on this one. Bin Laden has terrorized Americans and others around the world for decades, costing thousands of innocent people their life and just reading Mendenhall’s views on twitter well before these comments, you can’t fault people who might be questioning what he really believes in.
To take a line from the “thinker” Mendenhall, his comments in the long-run could make the Steelers and Rooney’s “think” twice about giving him that exclusive second NFL contract.