Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall stepped into one of the biggest controversies of this NFL offseason when he went on Twitter and questioned whether Osama bin Laden was behind 9/11, while criticizing those who celebrated bin Laden’s death. Teammate Hines Ward thinks Mendenhall should have kept quiet.
“Everybody’s entitled to their opinion,” Ward told ESPN. “But that wasn’t a good opinion.”
Mendenhall’s bizarre claim that hijacked planes couldn’t have destroyed the World Trade Center was, indeed, a bad opinion. At this point, we’d hope that goes without saying.
But Ward also had some interesting comments on the way Twitter has changed sports: Athletes have a thought pop into their heads and they tweet their thought, even if it’s not a thought that it’s wise for them to broadcast publicly.
“If that’s your opinion leave it as your opinion,” Ward said. “When you tweet that out there, you have to deal with the backlashes that come with that. You put everybody out there because everywhere we go we get asked questions about the comments you made. When you tweet like that, you’ve got to be careful. I’m not a big tweeter because sometimes your emotions get caught up, you speak your mind and it’s not always the best thing to say.”
That’s a lesson Mendenhall learned the hard way.