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: Dec 3, 2010
Posted on: July 19, 2011 11:09 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

When does anyone actually take responsibilty for their actions.  Just like in any forum through out the world (Blog, TV, Radio, stage), there are times and places for your own opinions to be expressed.  Whats with the sense of entitlement that athletes, actors, etc. that because they're in more of a lime-light that their actions/opinions and simple manners are different than anyone elses?  When I need a college educated response from an athlete concerning basket weaving 101, then I'll be sure to ask the "student athlete" that makes up professional sports.



Since: Jan 5, 2009
Posted on: July 19, 2011 11:02 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Win or lose, try finding another endorsement deal out there.
But i'm guessing they weren't knocking down your door to begin with.
Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
   



Since: Oct 3, 2006
Posted on: July 19, 2011 10:49 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Actually i think pound for pound hes one of the smartest in this country, atleast hes not a sheep like the majority in this country that take every BS  the mainstream media and the Gov'nt feeds us. Dude had a point, all he said was lthink outside the box and look at other scenerous or possibility regarding 9-11.
I stand corrected, . It is YOU who is the dumbest person on the planet (I said planet, not country, reading comprehension much?). That was your frist post on this site, we can only hope it was your last as well. 



Since: Jan 19, 2007
Posted on: July 19, 2011 10:45 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

I wouldn't sign an athlete to an endorsement deal without an iron-clad contract that allows me to terminate the deal for any reason. For any athlete who can't agree to those terms, there are hundreds of other stars behind you with a pen.

To athletes who think they can embarrass themselves or their employers with their statements...when was this ever acceptable? Players are getting fined and suspended for what they tweet, post, etc. Most employees are held by the same standard. Don't embarrass the company with your actions, or face the consequences. Exercize free speech is you want, but be prepared for companies to exercise their right to at-will employment. Employers have the right to protect their business and all the people depending on the business.

Here's a tip if you want to make lots of money on endorsement deals...Keep your personal thoughts out of the public eye.

If you simply must tweet every friggin' thought that comes into your head, or if you want to make a statement, just know what the cost of that particular freedom is.



Since: Feb 24, 2007
Posted on: July 19, 2011 10:38 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

I don't know what amazes me more, the fact that some of these athletes think we care about their opinions on anything outside of their sport, or that some people actually take them seriously! The arrogance of this guy to put his opinion out there regarding an incident where thousands of innocent people lost their lives and thinking we wanted to hear it! There's an old saying, which I have updated, it's better to remain silent and let them think you're an idiot, or open your twitter account and prove them right. Rashard, stick to football, worry more about not fumbling in the Super Bowl, and keep your conspiracy theories to yourself.



Since: Jul 9, 2009
Posted on: July 19, 2011 10:34 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

At a glance, this certainly looks like what some of us would call "chutzpah" on his part.  But three points worth mentioning, perhaps:

(1) Assuming the correspondent's quote is correct, the clause bars Mendenhall from action "tending to bring Mendenhall into public disrepute, contempt, scandal or ridicule, or tending to shock, insult or offend the majority of the consuming public.”  I guess he could try to weasel out of this by arguing that a majority of the consuming public didn't hear about it at all and therefore weren't offended by it (though a majority of those who did hear about it were certainly offended), but I guess the response would be that it still "tended" to offend a majority, etc.

(2) Theoretically, maybe he's arguing that the clause is somehow illegal.  I can't see that getting very far.

(3) Actually--and assuming he's had the same attorney all along--I'm guessing that the suit is primarily the attorney's attempt to cover himself for having both allowed the clause into the contract and for having perhaps told Mendenhall at some point that what Mendenhall wrote didn't violate it.  I just hope for Mendenhall's sake that the lawyer's handling the case on a contingent-fee basis . . .



Since: Oct 30, 2006
Posted on: July 19, 2011 10:27 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

while i dont agree with what he said, there was alot of shady crap going on with bush in the white house....if you think bush was clean, then you are most certainly blind.



Since: Aug 30, 2007
Posted on: July 19, 2011 9:21 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Actually i think pound for pound hes one of the smartest in this country, atleast hes not a sheep like the majority in this country that take every BS  the mainstream media and the Gov'nt feeds us. Dude had a point, all he said was lthink outside the box and look at other scenerous or possibility regarding 9-11.


Wow. I didn't know Glen Beck liked sports.



Since: Aug 23, 2006
Posted on: July 19, 2011 8:07 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

I wouldn't even draft this f__ K for my fantasy team



Since: Jun 22, 2011
Posted on: July 19, 2011 7:07 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

"I just don't see how a plane can take down a skyscraper demolition style", this twit is a complete moron! Did he not see the footage of the planes hitting the towers? Talk about a subject sure to get the american people in an uproar, someone is paying you lots of money to endorse there product.....lets try not to piss off America!  What a tool.


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