The NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers are no strangers to off-field controversy
. (See: Ben Roethlisberger, Jeff Reed, Santonio Holmes.)
So, it may come as little surprise that in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. special forces, the team’s star running back Rashard Mendenhall is in hot water.
Let’s go to the highlights.
On Monday, Mendenhall 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…”
Then he outed himself as a 9/11 conspiracy theorist:
“I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style.”
That tweet was removed.
The Steelers jumped all over this, hoping to distance itself from Mendenhall’s comments. Team president Art Rooney II had this to say on the team’s website
“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.”
We’re reminded once again that timing is everything, and you’ve got to know your audience. Players say controversial things all the time. They also take stances on political issues that don’t necessarily jibe with the mainstream.
With the national fervor over bin Laden’s death—an event that provides a sense of closure for many in the nation, particularly the families of 9/11 victims—right now would be a good time for Mendenhall to keep his mouth shut.