The day after creating a public relations nightmare for himself and his organization, Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall explained himself.
In 140 characters of a tweet Tuesday, Mendenhall sent tongues wagging around the country when he criticized the massive celebrations that broke out over the slaying of Osama Bin Laden. It took him an entire blog post to clarify his comments.
Chances are, the post did little to mollify his critics.
“First, I want people to understand that I am not in support of bin Laden, or against the USA,” Mendenhall wrote in an open letter at r34Mendenhall.blogspot.com.
After offering his support for the devastated families of 9/11 and the troops fighting overseas, and noting that he participated in a football camp in Germany for the children of servicemen, he addressed his controversial tweet directly.
“This ... was something I said in response to the amount of joy I saw in the event of a murder,” the 23-year-old Mendenhall wrote. “I wasn’t questioning Bin Laden’s evil acts. I believe he will have to face God for what he has done. 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 finished with an apology for the timing of his tweet and wrote he meant only to “encourage anyone reading it to think.”
In that goal, he exceeded his expectations. And his blog entry and his characterization of the confessed mass murderer's liquidation as “a murder” might touch off an entirely new firestorm.