Rashard Mendenhall Learns the Meaning of Free Speech

by Corey Dean Hall

Like the Dixie Chicks before him, Rashard Mendenhall is learning that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences:

Rashard Mendenhall created one of the offseason’s biggest controversies when he tweeted some stuff about 9/11 following Osama Bin Laden’s death. The tweets got fans all stirred up, drew some remarks from teammates and got him fired as an endorser of Champion.In response, Mendenhall is — per CNBC’s Darren Rovell — suing Hanesbrand, the parent company of Champion in North Carolina District Court. “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 reads.

In all likelihood, this won’t work like a normal “wrongful termination” case — Mendenhall had a clause in his Champion contract that, per Rovell, allows them to fire him if Mendenhall “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.”  

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