Athletes, like anyone else, are free to offer their opinions on current world events. After all, they’re humans, and their freedom of speech is no less important than that of any other citizen.
But, as Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall is quickly finding out, freedom of speech doesn’t mean there aren't consequences to those remarks.
A day after the 23-year-old Mendenhall posed some interesting questions and comments concerning the death of Osama Bin Laden, Steelers team president Art Rooney II came out and expressed a certain sense of bewilderment about his player’s positions.
Here is what Mendenhall originally had to say on Twitter:
"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...
"@dkeller23 We'll never know what really happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style
"I believe in God. I believe we're ALL his children. And I believe HE is the ONE and ONLY judge.
"Those who judge others, will also be judged themselves.
"For those of you who said you want to see Bin Laden burn in hell and piss on his ashes, I ask how would God feel about your heart?
"There is not an ignorant bone in my body. I just encourage you to #think"
On Tuesday morning, in a prepared statement, Rooney separated both the Steelers and himself from Mendenhall’s tweets.
"I have not spoken with Rashard so it is hard to explain or even comprehend what he meant with his recent Twitter comments. The entire Steelers' organization is very proud of the job our military personnel have done and we can only hope this leads to our troops coming home soon."
Because of the current NFL lockout, neither Rooney nor his team officials can have any contact with Mendenhall.