Rashard Mendenhall mentions fantasy football as a reason for retiring

rashard-mendenhallArizona Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall has decided to retire from football after just six seasons in the NFL. The 26-year-old battled knee and toe issues throughout much of the 2013 season, but injuries are not the reason for his decision. Mendenhall tried to explain himself in a well-reasoned essay he wrote for the Huffington Post on Sunday.

Mendenhall said he feels that he has “done it all” after reaching two Super Bowls, traveling all over and making a lot of money. He also cited hatred as a reason walking away from the game will not be that difficult.

Imagine having a job where you’re always on duty, and can never fully relax or you just may drown. Having to fight through waves and currents of praise and criticism, but mostly hate. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been called a ‘dumb nigger’. There is a bold coarseness you receive from non-supporters that seems to only exist on the Internet. However, even if you try to avoid these things completely — because I’ve tried — somehow they still reach you. If not first-hand, then through friends and loved ones who take to heart all that they read and hear”

Perhaps the most interesting part of Mendenhall’s explanation came when he spoke about how the game of football has changed. One significant part of that, he says, is the growing popularity of pop culture and fantasy football.

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Rashard Mendenhall reportedly suspended for not attending Steelers’ game

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced on Tuesday that running back Rashard Mendenhall was suspended one game for conduct detrimental to the team.

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Mendenhall did not attend the team’s home game against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday after being told he would not be active for the game.

Mendenhall has had a difficult season. He tore his ACL in January and was attempting to return from the injury. He saw his first action in Week 5 against the Philadelphia Eagles, and then missed four games after injuring his Achilles’ tendon the next game. He returned for a Week 11 game against the Ravens and had 33 yards on 11 carries. The following week, Mendenhall fumbled twice against the Cleveland Browns. He was a healthy scratch for Week 13 after that poor performance, and he was a healthy scratch again against San Diego.

Mendenhall is undoubtedly frustrated with the way his season has gone and with his limited role on the team. He was demoted to third string behind Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman and he hasn’t played the last two weeks.

I understand why Mendenhall is upset, but he’s only hurting himself with his poor behavior. Not only is he set to lose just over $41,000 for missing the game, but fewer teams will be willing to sign a free agent running back who not only is coming off a knee surgery, but who also has a bad attitude when things don’t go his way.

Rashard Mendenhall calls out fans for not being supportive

Following their loss to the Titans on Thursday night, the Steelers are off to a disappointing 2-3 start to the 2012 season. With tough games remaining against the Ravens (twice), Bengals (twice), Giants, Chargers and Cowboys, Pittsburgh can ill afford to lose to lowly opponents like Tennessee. The fans understand that, which is why Thursday’s loss was particularly frustrating.

As much of a letdown as it may have been, Rashard Mendenhall sees that as no reason for the fans to get down on the Steelers.

Steelers fans are as hardcore as they come. Their expectations are high, as they should be. If the team was 4-1 and fans were getting on the players about the one loss, I would understand why Mendenhall is frustrated. But a 2-3 record isn’t going to cut it. At the moment, Steelers fans are worried that their team — which came into the season as an AFC favorite — may be in danger of missing the playoffs. If the players are tired of hearing it from the fans, they simply need to start playing better.

Rashard Mendenhall teases Arian Foster about being a vegan

Arian Foster recently announced that he was going vegan, causing his fans to have a fit. Aside from wondering how the dietary change will affect him, many people are wondering how Foster will be able to give up so many delicious foods. Fellow running back Rashard Mendenhall even teased Foster about it with a tweet:

The burrito must have been pretty awesome because Mendenhall reiterated that it was a “MEAN” burrito.

Foster took the tweet in stride and thanked Mendenhall for wishing him luck.

We don’t envy Foster’s situation because it’s difficult for any vegan to maintain proper nutrition, but at least we can say Mendenhall is finally using his Twitter account for slightly better purposes.

Rashard Mendenhall might be done with Steelers

Rashard Mendenhall‘s season ended when he tore his ACL Week 17 against the Browns, and the injury could mark the end of his career with Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the Steelers do not expect Mendenhall to be of much use to them this year. The team’s GM is not expecting him to return to form until at least the 2013 season. Mendenhall’s contract expires after next season so he could leave the team as a free agent.

The Post-Gazette does not expect the team to bring back Mewelde Moore, so Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, John Clay, and Barron Batch are their remaining running backs. It seems pretty clear that the team will take a running back in the draft.

The Steelers have moved from a run-first offense to a pass-first team in the last two years, but that doesn’t mean having a playmaker at that position isn’t a priority, especially if they lose game-breaking receiver Mike Wallace. Redman is a capable back, but not a game-breaker. I would be extremely surprised if they didn’t take a running back at some point in the draft.

H/T Evan Silva

Darren McFadden, Rashard Mendenhall, Knowshon Moreno Receiving Rave Reviews

When players receive constant praise and recognition during training camp, it generally is an antecedent to a successful season. Running backs Darren McFadden, Rashard Mendenhall, and Knowshon Moreno fit that bill, so they’ve turned me into believers.

Darren McFadden has missed some of training camp because of a fractured orbital bone, but when he’s practiced he’s turned heads. Raiders beat writer Jerry McDonald recently wrote that it “Doesn’t matter how much [McFadden] practices. No one else close.” Oakland offensive coordinator Al Saunders said McFadden was in the same class as Priest Holmes, Marshall Faulk, and Marcus Allen. Head coach Hue Jackson has said McFadden is one of the most complete and elite runners in the NFL. When that many sources agree on something, it generally means something.

Rashard Mendenhall hasn’t received the same amount of praise as McFadden, but he’s received extremely positive reviews. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he thought Mendenhall still had room to grow even with his successful past two seasons. Running backs coach Kirby Wilson says there’s nothing Mendenhall can’t do and that he has a bright future. National writer Dan Pompei says Mendenhall “showed up to camp in ‘wow’ shape.” He also says that Mendenhall is more comfortable now that he’s in his fourth year with the team. Pompei says Mendenhall is out to make people recognize him for his play, not his bin Laden comments.

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Rashard Mendenhall Sues Champion After Being Dropped Over 9/11 Tweets

Rashard Mendenhall is suing sports apparel company Champion after they dropped him as an endorser following his controversial 9/11 tweets. You may recall that in May that Mendenhall expressed his doubt that the airplanes could take out the twin towers in New York city. Mendenhall tried to “clarify” his thoughts a day later, but his “clarification” left out the most ignorant aspect of his tweets. Two days later, Champion dropped him.

Now, CNBC reports that Mendenhall is suing Champion for terminating his deal. “This case involves the core question of whether an athlete employed as a celebrity endorser loses the right to express opinions simply because the company whose products he endorses might disagree with some (but not all) of those opinions,” the suit reportedly says.

According to CNBC:

The company can terminate him if he “commits or is arrested for any crime or becomes involved in any situation or occurrence tending to bring Mendenhall into public disrepute, contempt, scandal or ridicule, or tending to shock, insult or offend the majority of the consuming public.”

Hopefully Mendenhall doesn’t get anything from this suit. Champion is paying him to endorse their product, and he offended the majority of the consuming public with his comments, so there appears to be ground to dismiss him. If he were so concerned with keeping his sponsors happy and not rocking the boat, he would have kept his mouth shut.

Honestly though, sometimes it’s more important to have people unafraid to speak up than it is to have people who will keep quiet for money. Michael Jordan infamously refused to comment on political issues because “Republicans buy sneakers too,” and he lost an opportunity to be a difference-making voice. In Mendenhall’s case however, it’s probably best for him if he doesn’t let everyone know how ignorant his viewpoints are.