Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall has suffered backlash from a corporate sponsor for his Twitter comments on the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden and his views of the events of 9/11 just a few days ago. Michael McCarthy from USA Today reports that the athletic wear company Champion is ending their business relationship with Mendenhall because the company doesn\’t think he can appropriately represent the company going forward. Mendenhall has endorsed the Champion brand since 2008 and was scheduled to do so through 2015 after Champion recently extended their relationship with him according to McCarthy.
As I wrote a few days ago, the backlash was pretty much expected and the Steelers have done their best as well to distance themselves from the views of Mendenhall and Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert has since called his comments ill-advised. Mendenhall tried to clarify his tweets yesterday on his new blog, but it evidently was not enough to satisfy Champion.
The full Champion statement is below:
Champion is a strong supporter of the government\’s efforts to fight terrorism and is very appreciative of the dedication and commitment of the U.S. Armed Forces. Earlier this week, Rashard Mendenhall, who endorses Champion products, expressed personal comments and opinions regarding Osama bin Laden and the September 11 terrorist attacks that were inconsistent with the values of the Champion brand and with which we strongly disagreed. In light of these comments, Champion was obliged to conduct a business assessment to determine whether Mr. Mendenhall could continue to effectively communicate on behalf of and represent Champion with consumers. While we respect Mr. Mendenhall\’s right to express sincere thoughts regarding potentially controversial topics, we no longer believe that Mr. Mendenhall can appropriately represent Champion and we have notified Mr. Mendenhall that we are ending our business relationship. Champion has appreciated its association with Mr. Mendenhall during his early professional football career and found him to be a dedicated and conscientious young athlete. We sincerely wish him all the best.