Rashard Mendenhall, like the rest of the world, wanted to weigh in on current events. One controversial tweet, though, almost destroyed Mendenhall’s career and reputation.
Rashard Mendenhall had a productive career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and emerged as a touchdown machine. Nearly seven years after his final NFL down, Mendenhall is coming off a successful run with HBO and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Rashard Mendenhall won a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers
A first-round pick from Illinois in 2008, Rashard Mendenhall won a Super Bowl ring as a rookie and burst onto the scene in 2009. Mendenhall totaled 1,108 yards and scored eight all-purpose touchdowns for the Steelers.
Pittsburgh named Mendenhall the full-time starting back in 2010 and he rewarded the team with 1,273 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. Mendenhall scored another four touchdowns that postseason, though the Steelers lost in the Super Bowl.
Mendenhall scored another nine touchdowns in 2011, but played just six games in 2012. Rashard Mendenhall averaged only 3.2 yards per attempt in 2013, his lone season with the Arizona Cardinals, yet scored eight touchdowns on a surprising Cardinals team.
That marked the end of Mendenhall’s career, though. At just 26 years old, Mendenhall retired and sought out other opportunities.
Mendenhall’s career was never the same after a controversial tweet
By the spring of 2011, Rashard Mendall was becoming a household name among NFL fans — and not just for his stellar play on the field.
When the NFL locked out in March 2011, Mendenhall made waves when he supported Vikings running back Adrian Peterson‘s belief the NFL was similar to slavery.
Mendenhall stirred up his own controversy a few weeks later. A team of United States Navy SEALs killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the early hours of May 2, 2011.
Mendenhall took issue with the world celebrating bin Laden’s death. The running back tweeted, “It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak.”
Rashard Mendenhall also posted a tweet speculating about who was truly responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
Mendenhall received universal criticism for his tweets and lost an endorsement deal with Champion, the athletic brand.
In a blog entry later that week, Mendenhall apologized for his comments and said he only tried to “generate conversation.”
“I wasn’t questioning Bin Laden’s evil acts. … I was reflecting on our own hypocrisy. During 9/11 we watched in horror as parts of the world celebrated death on our soil. Earlier this week, parts of the world watched us in horror celebrating a man’s death.”
Mendenhall played three more NFL seasons and continued scoring touchdowns at a torrent pace. But it became evident early that he had done considerable damage to his reputation.
Rashard Menhendall worked with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on Ballers
Rashard Mendenhall retired after the 2013 season with $13.8 million in career earnings, according to Spotrac.
Mendenhall didn’t need long to find the next stage of his career. The veteran NFL running back partnered with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on HBO’s Ballers, a fictional show which focused on NFL players and agents.
Mendenhall officially served as a producer, executive story editor, and writer. He even appeared as himself in two episodes.
Ballers ran for five seasons and ended last year. Mendenhall turns 33 on June 19 and, in another life, may still be playing.
In this life, though, Rashard Mendenhall landed his dream job and rebuilt his reputation after a bad tweet. We can all learn something from Mendenhall and how he put a social media incident behind him.
- All stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference