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Everybody Loves Rashard

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And [intlink id=”88″ type=”category”]Rashard Mendenhall[/intlink] loves you, too.

The [intlink id=”68″ type=”category”]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] have a weird relationship with the media.  The national folks, such as ESPN or Sports Illustrated, always downplay their accomplishments because Pittsburgh isn’t one of the glamor markets which they seem compelled to verbally fellate at every opportunity.  Seriously, the Cowboys were a non-factor last season yet every time you turned on NFL Live, who were they discussing?  In how many Super Bowls must Ben Roethlisberger appear before SI rates him ahead of such luminaries as Philip Rivers or Jay Cutler?

However, where the national media fails to pay the proper respect to the most successful franchise in NFL history, the local media more than picks up the slack.  Reporters, by their nature, tend to suck up to athletes because they need them to do their jobs.  The Pittsburgh media takes this to an extreme.  Whereas the Pirates and the Penguins get plenty of critical comments thrown their way, nary is heard a discouraging word when it comes to the Black and Gold.  If the Steelers are a Mafia, they definitely have the local press in their back pocket.

Witness this ridiculous article from Ron Cook on the Post-Gazette website.

Mendenhall was cheered when he was introduced with the offense. His ovation might not have matched the ones for teammates Maurkice Pouncey, Ben Roethlisberger and Hines Ward, but it was significant.

“The terrorist lover wasn’t cheered as much as the alleged rapist or the prancing sissy with the DUI but it was surely louder than Jonathan Scott.”

Then, Mendenhall contributed in a big way to long, time-consuming touchdown drives on the first two possessions. The cheers turned into roars. The game turned into a 24-14 Steelers blowout.

Ah, fans.


Many are so predictable. The reaction to Mendenhall was more proof that they either easily forgive or conveniently forget a star player’s perceived transgressions as long as that player performs well for their team.

Yeah, I think we established that when Ben got a standing ovation for his first pre-season game last year.  Or all the #92 jerseys you see in the stands despite James Harrison playing whack-a-mole on his baby momma.

Athletes are scumbags.  There are a few, like Troy Polamalu, who are good Christian gentlemen.  But most of them are self-important self-entitled assholes.  We don’t want them to be role models, we want them to win football games.

Also, you’re assuming people are aware of this Twitter controversy.  Have you seen the people who attend Steelers games?  I’d say the median age is somewhere north of 40.  Perhaps if the old fogeys who’ve had season tickets in their family since the Nixon administration made way for a younger and hipper crowd, more people would’ve booed him.  As it is, I bet 2/3 of the crowd think “Tweeting” is their grandkids’ new euphemism for copping a feel.

“I didn’t really think about it. I was just focused on the game,” Mendenhall said. “But it was cool.”

“I lost a $1 million deal with Champion thanks to my Twit-tardery but the ten fat guys in Kevin Greene jerseys chanting my name totally makes up for it.”

He didn’t take long to make ’em glad the Rooneys and coach Mike Tomlin didn’t overreact to his bin Laden tweets, which questioned bin Laden’s role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and why so many were so quick to celebrate his death. Mendenhall ran hard, starting with the first play when he put a move on defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins for a 4-yard gain.

Running hard for four yards > Disgraceful comments about the mass murder of over 3,000 innocent Americans

Mendenhall is on the verge of becoming a star.

He was 7th in rushing last year, almost 500 yards behind the leader.  He averaged 79 yards a game.  Arian Foster averaged 101.

He fumbled on the first play of the fourth quarter in Super Bowl XLV. You probably remember it.

Oh, we remember.

Steelers linebacker James Harrison called Mendenhall a “fumble machine” in a Men’s Journal article in June, an inaccurate observation if there ever was one.

Except, of course, for that minor little fumble in Super Bowl XLV which we probably remember.

Or the fumble he had against Baltimore in the first round of the playoffs which they converted into a nearly insurmountable 21-7 lead.

Or all those fumbles he had as a rookie leading Hines Ward and Willie Parker to take a page from The Program and order him to carry a football at all times while they encouraged teammates, reporters and even fans on the street to pry it away from him.

Other than those instances of him being a fumble machine, he’s not a fumble machine at all.

Mendenhall, for his part, shrugged and said he had no problem with Harrison because he knows him as a good teammate and a good person.

Or Mendenhall knew he was on thin ice as it is being an Al Queda loving conspiracy nut and didn’t want to draw any more attention to himself.

Also, it’s James Harrison.  Nobody in their right mind would stir up crap with Silverback. When night falls, the Boogieman checks his closet for James Harrison.

His Twitter opinions soon after bin Laden’s death were widely criticized as being flat wrong and insensitive.

Because they were flat wrong and insensitive.

Mendenhall later clarified his comments, saying he wasn’t anti-American. He also said he was speaking from a religious standpoint, not a political one.

“Clarifying comments” is a media code word for “Somebody said something f’n stupid and now is trying to backtrack without admitting they were wrong.”

You know how Mendy could have diffused the situation?  BY ADMITTING HE WAS WRONG.  Three months later, we’re still waiting…

 That was good enough for a lot of us, who disagreed with Mendenhall’s views but respected his right to have them.

“I can’t endorse his comments because they’re f#@kin stupid so I’ll figure out another way to spin this into defending a Steeler.  Oh, yeah, FREEDOM OF SPEECH!”

Also, the NFL is a private organization which doesn’t endorse freedom of speech.  Or else Art Rooney wouldn’t have been fined $25k for bitching about the officials. So this idea that players can say whatever they want free of consequence is patently false.  But you knew that.

This is typical Circle The Wagons behavior from the Pittsburgh sports media.  I would be willing to bet money Cook had this article written up months ago and just pasted in the parts about the Eagles game to make it appear current.  Were the people cheering for Mendy the same people who wanted him cut? Does his ability to play football absolve him from personal responsibility for making ignorant and tasteless comments?

The answer is irrelevant.  The Steelers PR work has been done.  “SEE, STEELER NATION!  RASHARD IS FORGIVEN!”  Look over here and not over there.  And believe what we tell you, not what you think.