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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: Jan 25, 2008
Posted on: July 18, 2011 7:35 pm
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Doubler loser, Rashard. Not only are you out the sponsorship money, but you'll take it in the shorts when you get your own lawyer's bill after losing this case. Quit while you're behind, dude.



Since: Aug 24, 2008
Posted on: July 18, 2011 6:53 pm
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Get with the program. If George Bush taught us anything it's torture isn't torture, assasination isn't assasination, and murder isn't murder... if we do it.

I am happy Osama is dead and I don't care that we murdered him but it is what it is, let's not argue semantics we offed the guy which is not how things are usually done in the USA. Cowboy justice has no bounds read the Ox Bow Incident some time. I think we should think a little more about everything but we all have a right to be an idiot, even Rashard. And now he shows us he is a bigger idiot. Rashard take your lumps and go to the house. This is a guitar that can't be tuned.





Since: Jan 14, 2009
Posted on: July 18, 2011 6:51 pm
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

I agree with the poster who stated that Mendenhall is pound for pound one of the dumbest people on earth. His lawyers must be related to him then.  Let's put aside the contract language.  Even without such specific language, why does Mendenhall believe Champion restricted his freedom of speech?  I am a lawyer.  If I went up to my boss and told him that I banged the crap out of my wife last night and that the only person I was thinking about was his wife, I am going to get fired.  So, is my boss restricting my freedom of speech?  No.  There are consequences to exercising your freedom of speech.  I am telling you.  Explaining this is almost difficult because of the basic nature of it.  

If you walk through the streets of Disney World and tell every kid you see to ef off, I am getting tossed and likely banned for life from Disney.  Is my freedom of speech being restricted?  No.  That is private property, and Disney is a private company.  This is in no way equivalent to the city preventing you from picketing or supporting your buddy for mayor by standing on the corner holding up a sign.  

That said, Mendenhall, you need to find some lawyers who actually have a clue as to how to practice law.  They surely can't read a contract and they surely have not made their law school professors proud.   



Since: May 10, 2011
Posted on: July 18, 2011 6:23 pm
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

The irony of this situation is that Rashard removed the original tweet from his account.  Then he concocts this huge statement of apology ending it up by saying he just wanted to give people pause to think.  That seems to be a big problem for people who run into trouble with Twitter and other social media They should have thought about their tweets before they sent them.  It is kinda like firing a bullet from a gun.  If it hits something other than your intended target you are still responsible for it.  Apparently Rashard doesn't understand the damage that errant words can do.



Since: Apr 26, 2007
Posted on: July 18, 2011 5:33 pm
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

No one ever accused Mendenhall of being a smart guy, so the fact that he is suing for violating a clause of his endorsement contract is right up his alley.  His freedom of speech rights weren't violated, he had and still has every right to express his opinions however he wants.  What Mendenhall and many other celeb's seem to be oblivious to is the simple fact that there are always consequences to thier tweets.

examples...

Celeb A Tweets, "I love America, it is soooo great!!! U-S-A!  U-S-A!"  which is followed by hearty applause from Americans everywhere and a sudden increase in popularity.

Celeb B Tweets, "America sucks, Canada is way awesomer."  which is quickly followed by numerous comments on how Celeb B can feel free to GTFO of America and a rapid drop in popularity ensues.

Seeing that Champion made sure to cover their butts, this is a simple case of "You got what you had coming Mendenhall, now STFU!"




Since: Oct 3, 2006
Posted on: July 18, 2011 5:25 pm
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Rashard Mendenhall, pound for pound, just might be the dumbest person on the planet.



Since: Feb 8, 2010
Posted on: July 18, 2011 5:20 pm
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

 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.”  

Umm, doesn't this say he pretty much can't sue. He offended people, was involved in a scandal, etc...they had every right to drop him.



Since: Jun 19, 2008
Posted on: July 18, 2011 5:20 pm
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Free speech means that when Mendenhall said stupid things about 9/11 then he wasn't arrested, sent to the gulag, or made to disappear.  It has nothing to do with the affect his free speech might have on business deallings.  If I publish a website that blasts the Steelers for being the worst team in America, the mayor of Pittsburgh can't shut it down.  That's free speech.  However, I wouldn't get a lot of advertising dollars from the Pittsburgh area.  That's capitalism.



Since: Sep 24, 2008
Posted on: July 18, 2011 5:07 pm
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

I see your Ben Roethlisberger, raise you a James Harrison, and re-raise you a Rahard Mendenhall. Call, what do you have......I have 3 jokers.

I fold, you win.



Since: Mar 7, 2011
Posted on: July 18, 2011 4:33 pm
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Hahaha - I like how he is throwing his money away.  I hope those lawyers are expensive.  This loser still doesn’t get it.  He should have apologized, shut his mouth, and walked away.  Nope – now he will bring everything to the surface (wait until he opens his mouth to the press during the trial) again and get cut once and for all.  




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