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
fghdfre
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 2, 2012 8:31 am
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hgtrerte
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 27, 2011 10:58 am
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tomlye
Since: Nov 28, 2011
Posted on: November 30, 2011 10:24 am
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Since: Feb 3, 2007
Posted on: July 20, 2011 4:07 pm
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Mkntrobl,

I don't believe most news, but Fox IS the most biased, even they know this. MSNBC is pretty slanted too, but no one is watching it so it's not producing hords of followers. I'm not left wing. I'm anti-anything political. That's why I don't vote so I won't become part of the problem. The entire system is broken and that includes the media. Maybe just focus on the important part of my post dealing with the amount of people in this country who'll believe anything they're told. (and that conspiracies are mostly laughable)

You or anyone else who was offended by the Fox comment should check out politifact.com. They shed alot of light on statements made by politicians and pundits because they actually check their facts and report what's true and what isn't, unlike most "journalists" these days.



Since: Oct 29, 2007
Posted on: July 20, 2011 9:39 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Oh and I had RM on my fanrtasy team last year and he killed me at the end of the season so I'm firing him too.  Can he sue me for that?



Since: Oct 29, 2007
Posted on: July 20, 2011 9:36 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

I think I'm as patriotic as anyone, but I didn't find RM's comments offensive any more than I found them idiotic. While it makes good internet discussion fodder, I actually find it somewhat humorous when an athelete spew garbage like this and people then become surprised or offended by it.  What he said clearly falls under free speech, so no problem with that.  But from the sponsor's side, I have absolutely no problem with them firing him either - after all, the point of being a sponsor is that you exemplify the image of the entity that you're sponsoring.  If you say or believe something that is contrary to that image, of course you should be fired.  If he wins the case on this basis alone that will be absolutely astounding.

I wonder if Adrian Peterson lost any sponsors (I assume he has some) earlier this year when he said the NFL was like "modern day slavery"?




Since: Sep 30, 2006
Posted on: July 20, 2011 9:33 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

You know, at least Mendenhall owns his comments. Doesn't make him right, but he believes he is. I admire that to an extent.

Now he is going to just go too far in thinking that he can say anything he believes and expect his sponsors to not take action. You're a paid sponsor, you're selling out, you need to comply with the sponsor's point of view. No different from endorsing Nike shoes (and taking Nike's money) and wearing modified Brooks shoes (Mike Schmidt.) Your sponsors are giving you money, and if you are not portraying the image they desire, you lose. That's just the way it is. Sue them? Good luck getting more sponsors. Mendenhall is not Tiger Woods.



Since: Oct 26, 2007
Posted on: July 20, 2011 9:33 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Too bad bin Laden isn't here today.  He would defend his bro in all this.  Maybe Rashard can get support from great leaders like Kadaffi, Julio Chavez and Mubarek to speak in his behalf.   Just go away Mendenhall!  

ps  should I take Rashard with the 9th pick of my fantasy draft if available????



Since: Oct 26, 2007
Posted on: July 20, 2011 9:31 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

This lawsuit reminds me of Rashard M's original tweets.  Idiot speaks, reveals stupidity.  This lawsuit is one big tweet mistake again for the man.  Keep up your stupidity bro lol



Since: Feb 22, 2010
Posted on: July 20, 2011 4:32 am
 

Rashard Mendenhall sues Champion over 9/11 tweets

Totally agree with comment below.  That stipulation is general in nature and Rashad falls dead in the bullseye with his comments.  Big Steeler Fan but I know Rashad will lose this one.


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