By Jeff Hathhorn

I defend, and millions of braver Americans lost their lives to defend, the right for Steelers tailback Rashard Mendenhall to speak his mind.  I appreciate his right to tweet what he thinks and owning up to the comments.

The problem with Mendenhall’s statements are not that he made them, nor as much that they are insensitive, but his facts are wrong.  Osama bin Laden gloated about his involvement in the attacks on innocent civilians in New York City, the Pentagon and what could have happened were it not for the brave souls who perished on a field just over an hour from here.  Many wars have been fought over religion and upon returning home from killing others, there were celebrations, as there are at the end of nearly every war (not that killing bin Laden means the end of the war on terror).  And there are other topics the self-called “conversationalist” tackles on his Twitter page that are too inappropriate to mention here.

Mendenhall needs to realize that his free speech comes at a cost, not his life like our soldiers, but his reputation.  Mendenhall is likely to lose sponsor Champion athletics and it’s unlikely he will ever get another, which potentially could cost him millions.  The Steelers tailback will also have his free speech matched by others and not just the rude responses on Twitter, but how will he react the first time he is out in public and gets verbally abused.  Also, he should hope the team introduces the defense for the home opener on September 18.  This will follow Mendenhall’s first game, atBaltimoreon September 11. 

There will be cheers for Mendenhall when he scores a touchdown or rips off a long run this season (assuming there is one), but know this, fans will be cheering the jersey, but booing the person.

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