PITTSBURGH (AP) — Rashard Mendenhall has created a stir with comments made on his official Twitter page regarding Osama bin Laden’s death.
The Pittsburgh Steelers running back on Monday tweeted: “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…”
Mendenhall didn’t hold back, even making a reference to the Sept. 11 attacks.
“We’ll never know what really happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style.”
The Steelers felt compelled to act. On Tuesday, team president Art Rooney II released a statement.
“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.”
Mendenhall, who profiles himself as a “conversationalist and professional athlete” on his Twitter page, turned some heads in March, as well, when he supported a comment by Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson comparing the NFL to “modern-day slavery.”
“Anyone with knowledge of the slave trade and the NFL could say that these two parallel eachother,” Mendenhall posted at the time.
Mendenhall is coming off a tremendous season, as he led the AFC champions in carries (324), rushing yards (1,273) and rushing touchdowns (13). He has 2,439 yards in three seasons since being drafted in the 2008 first round out of Illinois.
In the 2010 postseason, Mendenhall ran for 230 yards on 61 carries in three games with four touchdowns, as Pittsburgh defeated the Baltimore Ravens (31-24) and New York Jets (24-19), before falling to the Green Bay Packers 31-25 in the Super Bowl.
Among his other bin Laden tweets:
“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 … I ask how would God feel about your heart?”
“There is not an ignorant bone in my body. I just encourage you to think.”
Mendenhall’s string of tweets ended around 6 p.m. Monday. He has not tweeted since.
But he remains a hot topic. Sports radio talk shows in Pittsburgh — and around the nation, for that matter — were fielding calls on Tuesday about him.
Mendenhall has 13,631 followers on Twitter, and he personally follows 66. Included in the group he’s following is the Dalai Lama, comedian Sarah Silverman, and the Park Community Church in Chicago.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)