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…


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.

  1. mr mendenhall’s difficulty illustrates how easily the fear of millions of consumers voting with dollars by choosing your competition’s products over theirs is what scares the hell out of corporate marketers.

    it is so powerful that i am surprised progressives don’t boycott more effectively by coordinating and getting the word out. all these corporations we are deservedly worried about controlling our politics would immediately reverse engines if we the consumers actually decided to coordinate organized boycotts of a few particularly bad examples.

    without our dollars, corporations quickly lose ground in the jugular ripping field of battle called “the market.”

    we need to find a more effective way to harness this power as consumers to begin to reverse the corruption in washington.

    • lizard19

      it’s a win-win. Champion gets free publicity while doing something that most everyone will agree with. i mean, he wants to hear Osama’s side of the story? is he a terrorist sympathizer (he’s certainly wearing the right color of skin)? AND he openly wonders if airplanes can really bring down skyscrapers? another fucking nutjob truther. done and done.

      as for whoeverthehell progressives think they are, you can’t go trying to offend the paymasters when campaign coffers are hungry for loot.

      maybe they’ll be allowed to resubmit their list of pleas after Obama’s reelection.

  2. Jesse Homs

    “Free speech” is not well understood. It applies only to political speech. There is no free speech in the work place. Your employer has every right to shut you down, fire you for speaking up, and contracts can easily be voided for getting uppity.

    We had an outbreak of free speech in the late sixties and easterly seventies. It’s pretty well been contained. Our news media is free to speak as it wishes, but is remarkably diligent about policing itself. But teh media is owned by the corporations that do not allow free speech in the workplace, so they are not inclined to extend it to news either.

    Champion had every right to do as it did. However, their action is indicative of the enormous psychological repression that goes on in our society. People who can speak up are afraid to do so.

    Boycotts are a waste of time.

    • so declareth the oracle of doom…..

      “Boycotts are a waste of time.”

      spoken like a true corporate representative, mr tokarsk

      you declare again and again how corporate power dominates our politics yet you incongruously negate the one tactic which has proven effective against them. so how do you advise we proceed????

      you are quick to say what doesn’t work, yet i hear no remedy from the great oracle.

      there is no question that well organized boycotts are very effective according to historical evidence.

      • Ingemar Johansson

        Hate it when you’re right, pb.

        Looking at all the companies boycotting Beck, I’m wondering if his leaving FOX could be construed as another success?

        • you are right swede, boycotts can be a double edged sword. turns out that free speech in some cases is not free at all. in fact, can be quite costly.

          wielding economic power on the part of the end consumer is doubly effective because it constrains profits at the same time it creates a need to spend public relations money to counteract the campaign.

      • “Oracle of doom”? Boycotts are a feel-good exercise, a weak substitute for organizing. I have participated in them, still refuse to buy Nike crap, but I don’t imagine that it matters.

        How to proceed? It takes large groups of people engaged in intelligent activity focused by effective leadership. First step might be to leave the Democratic party. The anti-nuke movement of the 1980’s was effective. Bree peace has had some effect. The key is to get maximum bang for the buck – to concentrate activities in such a way that a small financial investment a plus volunteer time produces maximum public awareness.

        Asking people to lazily avoid one product, substituting another, is hardly engaging or effective.

        You say that i “declare that we are dominated by corporate power.” No matter who says what, that happens to be true. Then you say that boycotts are “the one tactic that has proven effective against them.” I said something true, you countered with something false. As any environmental activist will tell you, lawsuits work. Trial lawyers are incredibly effective, which is why they are demonized.

        But boycotts are a waste of time, says the oracle who said something true to the one who said something false.

    • I might add here that to the extent that our speech matters, it is not allowed. When our speech has impact, we are shut down. Hence, third parties are frozen out of “debates,” Wikileaks is attacked and virtually deballed. But to flail away on a blog or stand on a corner with a protest sign has no impact, and so is not only allowed, but encouraged. It gives the illusion of freedom.

      • lizard19

        boycotts don’t matter, your “speech” here does not matter because it’s allowed (i thought you were banned?), blogs don’t matter, blah blah blah.

        so what do you do that matters, then, Mark? because i’ll tell you what it looks like you’re doing here: blogsturbation.

        so go ahead and enjoy rubbing this one out, then maybe you should take those sticky fingers and go dig in a community garden where you live.

        do community gardens matter?

        • Jesse Homs

          “Blogsturbation”? Damn, that’s good! I will henceforth use it and pretend it is original. It’s the Microsoft in me that makes me do that.

          I get this all the time – what am I doing that matters? I spent many years trying to matter, and hope I had some effect. I tried to concentrate my activities locally, working in Montana Wilderness Association. But I haven’t done that sort of thing for years – even there, their only really effective activity was to engage in lawsuits, which they usually won.

          MWA is a Tester-tool now, and no longer effective or useful.

          Today I’m going to finish a tax return, go through my mail, clean my garage, listen to Bob McChesney. I just got done listening to Chris Hedges, and so don’t feel so alone. There are some good people out there doing good work, and they are not Democrats. Go figure.

  3. Steve W

    Boycotts are extremely effective in the right circumstance. Boycott is a tool. Like a hammer, it has it’s uses and it’s limitations.

    People want to use a boycott without learning what it’s good for and what it’s not good for. That’s not the tools problem.

    • JC

      I’ve been thinking of ways to initiate a viral boycott Koch Industries campaign. They’ve got a slew of pretty logos and brands that people might like to see next to their smug apparitions. Knowing that what they’re buying is more than just toilet paper–it’s also buying the politician who wipes his ass with it, and the lobbyist that tells him what brand to buy.

  4. It has to be bigger than a boycott. Fact is, every product you buy and every alternative to that product has its pros and cons. If you are worried about the system, if you’re worried about corporations controlling everything, you can try to avoid them. But to look that deeply into every product you buy, into every company, and say for sure that you’re money isn’t ending up in corporate hands is very difficult. Eventually you get a point, at very least when you get to raw materials, that near everything comes from a corporation or a national company, which is scarcely better in many cases.

    Perhaps ultimately what we need is to just buy less, period.

    • wrong pw! a boycott doesn’t have to be bigger, just more effectively targeted and well organized. a focused boycott on a few of the worst will scare the hell out of the rest of them.

      same way a good border collie nips just a few heels to get them running the right direction.

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