Archive for May 7th, 2011

It’s Just Business


by lizard

Pittsburgh Steeler’s running back Rashard Mendenhall has learned an expensive lesson about what being “under contract” means in corporate America. Mendenhall was quickly dropped from representing Champion sports apparel after making some controversial tweets about OBL and 9-11. Here are the two offending tweets:

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…

and

We’ll never know what really happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style.

In a statement sent to ESPN, Champion explained it’s decision:

“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. Earlier this week, Rashard Mendenhall, who endorses Champion products, expressed personal comments and opinions regarding Osama bin Laden and the September 11 terrorist attacks that were inconsistent with the values of the Champion brand and with which we strongly disagreed. 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.”

Champion made a smart business decision, and Mendenhall made a very stupid decision. Hopefully others will absorb this pricey lesson Mendenhall was forced to learn: if you have a contractual obligation to represent a clothing company and its corporate values (which includes exploiting cheap labor in other countries) then wondering what kind of person celebrates death and expressing doubt about airplanes demolishing skyscrapers will cost you.

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