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Blog Entry

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Posted on: July 18, 2011 3:57 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 4:05 pm
 
Posted by Will Brinson

Rashard Mendenhall created one of the offseason's biggest controversies when he tweeted some stuff about 9/11 following Osama Bin Laden's death. The tweets got fans all stirred up, drew some remarks from teammates and got him fired as an endorser of Champion.

In response, Mendenhall is -- per CNBC's Darren Rovell -- suing Hanesbrand, the parent company of Champion in North Carolina District Court.

“This case involves the core question of whether an athlete employed as a celebrity endorser loses the right to express opinions simply because the company whose products he endorses might disagree with some (but not all) of those opinions,” the suit reads.

In all likelihood, this won't work like a normal "wrongful termination" case -- Mendenhall had a clause in his Champion contract that, per Rovell, allows them to fire him if Mendenhall "commits or is arrested for any crime or becomes involved in any situation or occurrence tending to bring Mendenhall into public disrepute, contempt, scandal or ridicule, or tending to shock, insult or offend the majority of the consuming public.”  

The problem here for Mendenhall is that because he's dealing with an issue like 9/11, he'll have an uphill battle to prove that the majority of the consuming public wasn't offended by his comments, particularly given the storm of media coverage it generated.

Additionally, he's seeking monetary damages for his termination, which probably won't play well in the media, despite what his attorneys claim.

"Although the lawsuit seeks damages, this case is truly not about the money," Mendenhall's lawyer Stephen Thompson told Rovell. "In this age of widespread social media, Rashard believes (whether an athlete can be fired for his or her opinions) is an important question for all athletes who serve as celebrity spokespersons, and he intends to pursue this lawsuit to vindicate his rights and those of other athletes caught in this situation."

Perhaps the biggest problem is the resulting image hit that Mendenhall could suffer. Even though he's defending a basic American tenant -- free speech -- he's going to remind everyone in the country exactly why he got fired in the first place; it's unlikely that the general public's stance has changed on his statements since then.

And, of course, he's suing an ex-employer and someone who signed him to an endorsement contract. That's never good for business, particularly if you're trying to find future endorsers.

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Comments

Since: Feb 22, 2010
Posted on: July 20, 2011 4:28 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Totally agree with below statement.  BIg Steeler Fan but Rashad will lose.




Since: Aug 30, 2009
Posted on: July 20, 2011 3:07 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

And we're back to the point of the article:

Mendenhall will lose this case.  It has been attempted before by several other celebrity endorsers and the clause about damaging the company's image has won out every time.  To protect their companies from the idiotic ramblings of the people they hire is why the lawyers put that clause in every single endorsement deal.  It's almost as "fool-proof" a clause as has ever been written into a contract and defeating it is nearly impossible.  



Since: Aug 30, 2009
Posted on: July 20, 2011 2:45 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Zackcago,

With your statement "you have the right to believe whatever you like to in America even if it has little or no basis in fact. (Fox news veiwers do it all the time.) " I'm sure you simply forgot to add CNN viewers, MSNBC viewers and anybody watching just about any other media outlet. All of the news outlets are fact-based, at best. They all slant their news to the viewing audience and Fox is no worse than any of the others.

Or are you just a left-winger who really thinks everything CNN and MSNBC produce is purely factual?




Since: Feb 3, 2007
Posted on: July 19, 2011 11:23 pm
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Rashard has shown that you have the right to believe whatever you like to in America even if it has little or no basis in fact. (Fox news veiwers do it all the time.) It's one of the things that makes this country great. Though there is a good and bad side to many of the truths he holds to so I thought I'd make a short list. (I'm pretty sure he actually believes all of these things.)

On the bad side: We still don't know who's responsible for 9/11. Osama Bin Laden is still alive somewhere. Obama is a Kenyan born Muslim Socialist. And we've never actually been to the moon.

On the good side: The holocoust never happened. The civil war was fought over taxes, not slavery. OJ is innocent. And Elvis and Tupac are alive somewhere cashing checks.

BS conspiracies teach us one thing. No matter how solid your view is and no matter how many facts there are supporting it, there's someone out there with an opposing argument for it. It never has to be true. It just has to be said with conviction and scads of can't-think-for-themselves idiots will beleive it. How do you think Glenn Beck got so famous?





Since: Mar 5, 2011
Posted on: July 19, 2011 10:42 pm
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Mendenhall is free to say whatever he wants to say whenever he wants to say it. He is also responsible for the backlash and repercussions of what he says.

He critisized Americans for celebrating the death of arguably one of the most violent and heinous men in history but does anyone remember many of the Muslim nations on CNN celebrating in the streets in almost riot fashion when the tragedy of 9/11 happened?........I guess that's ok for them but not for us.

Just another example of mouth before brain!!!



Since: May 6, 2007
Posted on: July 19, 2011 7:46 pm
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

When will people learn?  Yes you have the right to free speach.  The rest of us however have the right to think your a bleeding idiot and  fire your behind because you broke a clause in your contract.  Game, set, match.



Since: Jul 12, 2011
Posted on: July 19, 2011 6:07 pm
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Mendenhall has the right to free speech, just has Hanesbrand has the right to fire him.  IT'S TO BAD HE HAS TO BE SO STUPID. 



Since: Dec 1, 2009
Posted on: July 19, 2011 5:05 pm
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

"Perhaps the biggest problem is the resulting image hit that Mendenhall could suffer. Even though he's defending a basic American tenant -- free speech"

That is one spectacular malaprop, Brinson. This fellow "free speech," he of the e.e. cummings persuasion, refused to pay his rent going forward, having rendered his chosen coin, his reputation, worthless to his landlord. Thus, he freely exercised his choice to make of himself a pariah or sorts. More fool him. Next!

P.S. That should've been "tenet," not "tenant," you silly sod. 



Since: Jun 13, 2007
Posted on: July 19, 2011 4:23 pm
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Rashard sure isn't doing himself any favors here in terms of picking up new endorsement deals.  Of course, after the remarks that led to this, he probably wasn't going to get one anyway.  But he's also not doing himself any favors setting himself up for his post-NFL career with this.  He is a smart dude, even if his views don't match those of many (most?) of us.  Hope he's got a good financial manager.

Seems like a pretty straightforward case, though.  He has a right to speak his mind.  Champion has a right to determine who represents their products.  Their "morals clause" is pretty broadly written.  Can't imagine he prevails at trial on this.

Now, onto the "basic English for journalists" portion of the post...

A "tenant" is someone who occupies a piece of real estate, an inhabitant.  A "tenet" is a principle or belief - like free speech.  Please start using the right word at the right time.



Since: Apr 26, 2007
Posted on: July 19, 2011 4:02 pm
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

@Aculed-

At first I was thinking the same thing you were about the ability to prove Mendenhall's tweets were "offending to the majority of the consuming public."  Then I read through some of the posts on the board here, and I think it's safe to say that, even with the small sample size, the majority of the people posting here are offended by Mendenhall's opinions about 9/11 and Bin Laden. 

Maybe years ago, before technology landed in the pockets of everyone from 8 to 80, this would be a pretty good case for Mendenhall, but Mendenhall wouldn't have gotten himself in this situation in the first place.  Today, with the ability for everyone to express their opinion everywhere for the world to read, it becomes a fairly simple set of keystrokes for Champion to find a majority of comments across the internet, condemning Mendenhall's opinions. 

The whole idea that his freedom of speech has been violated in complete nonsense, he tweeted what he was thinking, no one stopped him, no one suspended his Twitter account, men in black suits didn't break into his home and drag him away.  The only thing that happened to Mendenhall was exactly what should have happened.  An American company that was paying him to be a face for their product did not agree with his very public statements, and discontinued their business relationship.  Mendenhall is free to continue to make ignorant statements all he wants.

As for the "Who is to say we actually do?" quip at the end their, let me break it down for you.  A very general public survey was conducted, and 25% of America thinks that some sort of cover-up occured during 9/11, additionally 25% of America is stupid.  Feel free to do the math.


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