Champion drops Steelers' Mendenhall as endorser


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Rashard Mendenhall exercised his freedom of speech to make controversial comments on Twitter about Osama bin Laden and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

As a result, the company that pays him to endorse its product exercised its right to drop him as a client.

Champion, an athletic apparel company, said in a statement it has ended its business relationship with the Steelers running back, saying he can no longer "appropriately represent Champion."

The company said Mendenhall's tweets about bin Laden and the terrorist attacks "were inconsistent with the values of the Champion brand and with which we strongly disagreed."

"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," the statement said.

"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."

After bin Laden was killed in a U.S. military operation, Mendenhall posted on Twitter that he had a "hard time believing that a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style." He also wrote: "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 ..."

Wednesday, he wrote in a blog post that he in no way supported bin Laden and apologized to anyone who was hurt by his remarks. He cited his religious beliefs for questioning why people celebrated the death.


Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com .


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