Rashard Mendenhall clarifies tweets

Updated: May 4, 2011, 9:33 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Rashard Mendenhall on Wednesday posted a blog entry apologizing for and trying to clarify his controversial tweets regarding Osama bin Laden's death.

The Pittsburgh Steelers running back created a stir with comments made on his official Twitter page Monday after news of bin Laden's death broke.

Mendenhall I apologize for the timing as such a sensitive matter, but it was not meant to do harm. I apologize to anyone I unintentionally harmed with anything that I said, or any hurtful interpretation that was made and put in my name.

-- Rashard Mendenhall

"What kind of person celebrates death?" he wrote. "It's amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We've only heard one side..."

He tried to clarify those comments Wednesday.

"This controversial statement was something I said in response to the amount of joy I saw in the event of a murder. I don't believe that this is an issue of politics or American pride; but one of religion, morality, and human ethics," he wrote.

After quoting a bible verse, he wrote: "I wasn't questioning Bin Laden's evil acts. I believe that he will have to face God for what he has done. I was reflecting on our own hypocrisy. During 9/11 we watched in horror as parts of the world celebrated death on our soil. Earlier this week, parts of the world watched us in horror celebrating a man's death."

He apologized later in the posting and said he was just trying to "generate conversation."

"I apologize for the timing as such a sensitive matter, but it was not meant to do harm," he wrote. "I apologize to anyone I unintentionally harmed with anything that I said, or any hurtful interpretation that was made and put in my name.

"It was only meant to encourage anyone reading it to think."

Rob Lefko of Priority Sports, which represents Mendenhall, confirmed that the running back wrote Wednesday's blog post.

"This was truly, word for word, Rashard's thoughts," Lefko told ESPN.com's James Walker. "It was not written by anyone else and not crafted by anyone else."

Mendenhall on Monday also posted a tweet making a reference to the Sept. 11 attacks.

"We'll never know what really happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style," he tweeted.

Mendenhall has since deleted his 9/11-related tweet. He didn't address the tweet or its deletion in his blog posting Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Steelers president Art Rooney II released a statement regarding Mendenhall's tweets.

"I have not spoken with Rashard, so it is hard to explain or even comprehend what he meant with his recent Twitter comments. The entire Steelers organization is very proud of the job our military personnel have done and we can only hope this leads to our troops coming home soon."

On Wednesday, Mendenhall wrote that he in no way supports bin Laden or is "against the USA."

"I understand how devastating 9/11 was to this country and to the people whose families were affected. Not just in the US, but families all over the world who had relatives in the World Trade Centers. My heart goes out to the troops who fight for our freedoms everyday, not being certain if they will have the opportunity to return home, and the families who watch their loved ones bravely go off to war."

Mendenhall, who profiles himself as a "conversationalist and professional athlete" on his Twitter page, turned some heads in March, as well, when he supported a comment by Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson comparing the NFL to "modern-day slavery."

"Anyone with knowledge of the slave trade and the NFL could say that these two parallel each other," Mendenhall posted at the time.

Mendenhall is coming off a tremendous season, as he led the AFC champions in carries (324), rushing yards (1,273) and rushing touchdowns (13). He has 2,439 yards in three seasons since being drafted in the 2008 first round out of Illinois.

In the 2010 postseason, Mendenhall ran for 230 yards on 61 carries in three games with four touchdowns, as Pittsburgh defeated the Baltimore Ravens (31-24) and New York Jets (24-19), before falling to the Green Bay Packers 31-25 in the Super Bowl.

The link he posted to his blog entry Wednesday was the first post on his Twitter page since Monday's controversial tweets ended around 6 p.m. ET.

As a result of the controversy, Mendenhall saw a spike in his followers on Twitter. On Tuesday afternoon, he had 13,631. On Wednesday afternoon, he had 36,914.

He personally follows 67 on Twitter. Included in the group he's following is the Dalai Lama, comedian Sarah Silverman and the Park Community Church in Chicago.

Information from ESPN.com's James Walker and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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