NFL Player Gets in Trouble for Remarks about Bin Laden and Slavery

May 3, 2011

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, YourBlackWorld.comScholarship in Action 

Rashard Mendenhall of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been taking heat lately for making comments that many believe are in support of Osama Bin Laden.  But rather than being supportive of Bin Laden, Mendenhall is simply stating that Americans are celebrating death just a little too much for his comfort:

"What kind of person celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side…" Mendenhall said on his Twitter account.

Adding to the controversy, Mendenhall went further by stating that he’s not exactly sure what happened on September 11.

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

Of course any outspoken athlete is going to immediately get the attention of the team’s management.  Most team owners are accustomed to black athletes remaining silent on socio-political issues, and to only draw attention to themselves for being blinged out, having a stack of baby’s mamas or dancing in the end zone. 

Steeler’s owner Art Rooney II released this statement about Mendenhall’s remarks.

"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."

Mendenhall has also been criticized for supporting a remark made by a fellow player, Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings, who referred to the NFL as “modern day slavery.”

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

Mendenhall ended his Twitter comments by making some references to God:

"I believe in God. I believe we’re ALL his children. And I believe HE is the ONE and ONLYjudge."

"Those who judge others, will also be judged themselves."

"For those of you who said you want to see Bin Laden burn … I ask how would God feel about your heart?"

"There is not an ignorant bone in my body. I just encourage you to think."

First, let me start by saying that I am extremely proud of Rashard Mendenhall.  I am not proud because I agree with everything he says.  Instead, I am proud because he is a black man who is committed to thinking for himself instead of allowing others to think for him.  At ALARM, the Athlete Liberation Academic Reform Movement, our primary objective is to get athletes to walk away from the irritating stereotype of the dumb, black male jock who sees nothing wrong with having a fifth grade reading level at the age of 25.  Many of these men are abused and exploited by a system that is designed to destroy them (see the brain damage of Dave Duerson before his suicide, along with the multitude of athletes who eventually go broke), and they return to the African American community unable to serve as adequate husbands, fathers or leaders.  Professional sports stands as one of the great curses of the African American male and we must stop letting our boys define themselves solely as animals who are wired to run and jump down a field without any other redeeming value that they can add to our society.

With that said, Mendenhall must be sure to balance his comments by respecting the memory of those who were killed in 9/11.  He cannot simply pretend that the killing of Bin Laden was purely evil and unjustified.  All the while, it says nothing good of our collective soul that we celebrate the death of anyone.

Similar to the Bin Laden situation, I was saddened by the jubilation some Americans showed at the deaths of the children and grand children of Muammar Gaddafi when they were killed in a recent air strike.  While one might simply write off the deaths of Gaddafi’s children as a mere consequence of their affiliation with a leader who’s slain others in the past, one could make the same argument about those who died in 9/11.  When it’s all said and done, violence is almost always tragic and it is never spiritually or psychologically healthy to celebrate the death of another human being.

A final note about Mendenhall’s remarks about the NFL being “modern day slavery”:  We can all agree that being an NFL athlete is far from being a slave.  But what holds true is that the restriction of labor rights and the evaluation of athletes being traded as pieces of meat certainly reminds one of the slave trade, where the big strong buck negro was always a prime acquisition for the wealthy slave owner.  Also, one doesn’t have to be unpaid to be a slave, for freedom is a continuum, not a dichotomy.  So, a young black male with no option other than to join a professional sports league that then restricts his labor rights and ruins him physically and mentally is certainly less free than the rest of us.  So, “modern day slave” might be an appropriate way to describe modern day athletes, especially those being exploited by the NCAA.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To have Dr. Watkins commentary delivered to your email, please click here. 


28 Responses to “NFL Player Gets in Trouble for Remarks about Bin Laden and Slavery”

    • JC Says:

      Let’s all keep in mind SLAVES DO NOT GET OR HAVE CHOICES—-nor are they “paid” sooo well (millions). All black athletes can leave sports 1-2yrs. or when a contract is up and pursue a degree or start a business,etc.— after making few million. Maybe THEY become addicted to the lifestyle, attention,money— in this case it is NOT the sport(s) industry or owners enslaving them. AGAIN the black athletes CAN walk away before any contracts are signed or after a contract is up. They CHOOSE to stay!!!! They bitch but they love it!!!

  1. I join you in your salute to Rashard for having the courage of his convictions and not letting the collective control his thinking. I do not, however, think his comments have even the slightest tinge of disrespect for the 9/11 victims. It is not disrespectful to a victim of a crime to demand that justice, real due process and transparent justice, is applied to any suspected of harming them. It is, in fact, an outrage and an affront to our system of justice, flawed though it may be, to suggest anything other than the fair, equal, and consistent application of justice and the law.

    Nor is it disrespectful to our troops to question whether the mission to which they have been set is and honorable and just one. Art Rooney is off base and xenophobic in the extreme to even try to paint Rashard as unpatriotic. I decry from the highest heights the criminal acts of starting wars and fomenting regime change by force of arms in Iraq and other countries. That in no way signifies contempt for the soldiers who have been put in harms way. It is a complete indictment of the command structure that initiates the action.

    We are all Americans. We all have a stake in this country and how this country co-exists with the rest of the world. Those of us who vehemently disagree with the imperialist nature of the past ten years of armed conflict in North Africa (improperly referred to as the “middle east), are no less patriotic, and show no less love for our country by our attempts to forge a better direction for us all.

  2. cookiedav Says:

    I understand what you’re saying, And I all ways speak up when it comes to black men. Thats the way it is for black men, wanting you say something so they can pull you down. I say for you bless your heart, that you had something to say to the people. People who don’t know no better take things the wrong way. I tell my daughter sometime it may hurt, some things you keep to yourself, knowing she’s right. I’m praying you’ll be alright.

  3. Edwina Dunbar-Johnson Says:

    I agree with you Rashard Mendenhall. They shouldn’t celebrate the death of a human being. If this man had anything to do with the castatrophe that happened on September 11th, then the retaliation was justify but if not, this is not right. Stop putting BLAME on others for your sneaky plan(s) or wickedness. You know who you are. I will NOT/NEVER celebrate someone’s death. With this said; I rest my case.

    Rashard Mendenhall, don’t apologize to no one. You said nothing wrong.

    • Edwina The Fool Says:

      “Stop putting BLAME on others for your sneaky plan(s) or wickedness.”…..Oh really….more delusional babble from the Sub Saharan Negroid mind.

  4. JimCrowed Says:

    “While one might simply write off the deaths of Gaddafi’s children as a mere consequence of their affiliation with a leader who’s slain others in the past, one could make the same argument about those who died in 9/11. ”

    So all of those who died in 9/11 were responsible for committing murders in the past? Are you insane or is this how the Sub-Saharan African mind works? Whitey be the devil blah blah blah… Most Blacks are mentally delusional to think Bin Laden was some sort of Black hero. No sir, ABD has 2 meanings in Arabic.

    • The Moors Ruled Spain For 800 years Says:

      It was a sub-saharan negroid mind that orchestrated the demise of Osama Bin Laden when the great European effort failed to do so.

    • Joanna Says:

      I don’t think that is what the author of this piece meant. It is the celebration that was occurring due to the death of these children that was being referred to. All of those that died in 911 are not responsible for commmitting murders in the past but despite all of that, those children, Gadhafi’s children’s souls should be mourned, not celebrated. The argument is that those in 911 were affiliated with the United States government and responsible for so much more, I guess.

      And unless you can provide me with accurate psychological accounts that MOST, meaning 10% of Blacks out of the 13% that reside in this population are mentally delusional then you can have the right to speak as a psychiatrist or even a discernible doctor. But since, I guess you don’t, keep your ignorant remarks to yourself.

      Please and Thank you

  5. Anonymous Says:

    rashard is a dumbfuck … he will b boo ed out of the NFL …

  6. tamela78 Says:

    Speak your mind good for you, we don’t have to agree but at least he is speaking about something besides bling and sex and baby mamas!!!!!!!

  7. pbt Says:

    He is right on point with his comments. All of you hypocrites, especially christians who go around trying to recruit people into your slave religion, should be ashamed of yourselves. What happened to thou shalt not kill? Since when does America convict and execute an unarmed man without a trial? He’s right about 9/11. There are lots of questions and those questions need to be answered. I’m happy to see there are still some thinking black men out here that won’t sell their integrity for a paycheck no matter how big. Those that do really are slaves.

  8. Only The Truth! Says:

    I am truly amazed that this ultra racist country with its shameful legacy of slavery and long term Jim Crow laws has the audacity to question a Black man’s prospective on an issue that comes out very different to him. I absolutely agree with Rashard Mendenhall. George Bush and his racist, hateful, war mongering band of criminals in the “white house” come from a long line of Americans war criminals who have killed literally millions of “less important people” in Japan, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world. Why are Americans’ lives so valuable, and the lives of people of other “unimportant nations” so worthless? Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence? Rashard Mendenhall is absolutely right! We see it all differently! You constantly remind us that you are the descendants of the devils who enslaved our ancestors! We will not have you continue to suggest that freedom, including Freedom of Speech, is a province reserved exclusively for white people!

    When will President Harry Truman, who ordered the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on a civilian Japanese population, be brought to justice, in absentia, for his heinous war crimes? Why weren’t the Japanese granted the great opportunity to shoot him in the head and other vital parts of his body before he died? When will George Bush, the most ignorant, sadistic, and heartless person to ever occupy the “white house” be brought to justice for his crimes against the Black and poor people of Texas? Rashard Mendenhall is absolutely right! We see it all differently! You constantly remind us that you are the descendants of the devils who enslaved our ancestors!

    When will George Bush be brought to justice for ordering those young, precious American men and women to war in Iraq under the guise of attacking a nation that was responsible for 9/11, and reportedly had weapons of mass destruction? George Bush was responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent Iraqi civilian! When will the Iraqi people have the special opportunity to get their justice for the million of Iraqis that George Bush killed? Will the Iraqi have the opportunity to come to this country, go to Texas, track George Bush down and exact their justice? Isn’t it against International Law to assassinate elected leaders of countries? Here again, International Law applies to everybody except the United States! Rashard Mendenhall is absolutely right! We see it all differently! You constantly remind us that you are the descendants of the devils who enslaved our ancestors!

    I wonder who is behind all the turmoil in Northern Africa, or the Middle East. Americans are usually at the root of all the wars, problems, dissensions, that cause all kind of havoc for the indigenous people there in Northern Africa, and everywhere else in the world! This is a ruthless, racial country! You can visit Columbia, South Carolina and see real, raw, undiluted racism, as the Confederate Flag is on display on the front lawn of State House! Who wants the Confederate Flag displayed anywhere? No Black person wants that Flag anywhere! Rashard Mendenhall is absolutely right! We see it all differently! You constantly remind us that you are the descendants of the devils who enslaved our ancestors! We will probably never see any of these types of issues the same way as the descendents of the devils who enslaved our ancestors see them!

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