Cook: Mendenhall's lack of common sense can't cloud team's poor play
October 15, 2012 12:00 PM
Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
After the Steelers' 26-23 loss Thursday to the Titans, Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall tweeted, "Seriously, if you're gonna talk trash about your team and everyone on it, don't call yourself a fan. A fan is a supporter ... "
By Ron Cook Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey once took to Twitter to attack one of his critics. "I'm rich play for the Steelers and have a awesome life! U wish u had my life!! ... your a loser Rick! Get a life I hate people like u!" Pouncey's timing couldn't have been worse. The Steelers had just been Tebowed by the Denver Broncos in the playoffs in January. He didn't even play in the game, sitting out with an ankle injury, just as he did against the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV a year earlier.
That was bad.
A couple of years earlier, wide receiver Santonio Holmes, then with the Steelers, tweeted that one of his critics should commit suicide. "y u tryna make me look like the bad guy. u should try finding the worst thing that you could drink n kill urself." A lot of people who knew Holmes thought he was a despicable person with the intelligence of a tree because of his many run-ins with the law. His tweet confirmed it.
That was really bad.
But so is this:
"Seriously, if you're gonna talk trash about your team and everyone on it, don't call yourself a fan. A fan is a supporter ... "
That was a tweet from Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall after the team's lousy performance in a 26-23 loss Thursday night to the Tennessee Titans. You might say he's a repeat Twitter offender. In May 2011, he infamously tweeted sympathy for Osama bin Laden after bin Laden's death. "What kind of person celebrates death? It's amazing how many people can hate a man they never even heard speak. We've only heard one side."
I remember defending Mendenhall in that instance, admiring his willingness to put his name publicly on an unpopular opinion. Steelers president Art Rooney II and coach Mike Tomlin were a little less supportive. I believe Tomlin had a private chat with Mendenhall to discuss the insensitivity of his comments. He described Mendenhall as being young and, without actually saying it, stupid.
I'm thinking the word works again with this Mendenhall tweet.
Mendenhall will say he wasn't calling out all Steelers fans, just those who were critical of him, the team or both after the Tennessee game. That doesn't matter. A professional athlete never wins when he takes on the fans.
Steelers fans are more supportive of their team than any fan base in sports. Many paid big money to get to and into LP Field in Nashville. The place was nearly half-filled with Terrible Towels.
There was very little to like about the Steelers effort against the Titans. The team lost to an inferior opponent, which is becoming a sad trend this season. Fans at the game and those watching on television had every right to be disgusted. They also have every right to be critical if they feel it's warranted. That hardly makes them bad, unsupportive fans. It just makes 'em caring, passionate fans.
The No. 1 rule in any business is don't insult the customers. Legendary Steelers coach Chuck Noll always knew that. "Your critics are always right," he said. "The only way you shut them up is by winning." I can't remember one time when Noll lashed back at the media or the fans. But he certainly did a lot of winning.
Mendenhall should worry about staying healthy and running with the football, not the fans. He missed the first three games this season with a knee injury, played well against the Philadelphia Eagles, then left against the Titans after just six carries for 6 yards. The team announced he had an Achilles tendon injury. It wasn't until he tweeted after the game that we learned of his thin skin problem.
Mendenhall's health is one of many issues Tomlin must face this morning when the Steelers gather at their South Side headquarters after a long weekend. The team is in disarray with a 2-3 record, including 0-3 against AFC opponents with each loss against a team with a losing record. Making matters much worse, rookie nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu was arrested early Sunday morning and is facing a variety of felony and misdemeanor charges after allegedly trying to flee police while driving drunk, crashing into a number of vehicles and injuring a woman. Ta'amu must have attended the Santonio Holmes School of Comportment.
Yeah, it really should be a happy day at 3400 South Water Street.
The legal system will take care of Ta'amu. But in Mendenhall's case, common sense must prevail. That's a little bit frightening, isn't it? Mendenhall doesn't appear to have any.