Former Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall feels the Pittsburgh’s current quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, is a “racist.” At least he did, until he tried to soften his initial comments.
Mendenhall was tweeting on Thursday morning in defense of former Steelers teammate Antonio Brown, who feuded with Roethlisberger the last couple of years before the wide receiver was traded to Oakland on March 9.
“Alright, I’ll end the mystery… B’s (Ben Roethlisberger’s) racist and @AB84’s (Antonio Brown’s) black,” tweeted Mendenhall. “He had to catch balls from a racist quarterback. Every honest player knows it, it’s not a big deal. He was just supposed to take his lickings and move on, like a slave for real.”
About three hours after this tweet, Mendenhall backed off his comments, somewhat.
“Clearly it’s no fun, when EVERYONE’s the accused,” tweeted Mendenhall. “Please allow the dialogue in sports to be equal. Why’s it so easy to shoot at one player, but not the other?
B’s not racist. Just like AB’s not a dirtbag.#letsbefair.”
Mendenhall played with Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh from 2008-12, and also with Brown from 2010-12.
Mendenhall, the Steelers’ first-round pick in 2008 out of Illinois, expounded on his comments about Roethlisberger and Brown in a series of tweets.
“I know he seems outta pocket right now, but I seriously feel for [Brown],” Mendenhall wrote. “As a black athlete in this country, you can literally lay your body out and give your entire being for a higher cause, the greater good of a TEAM. And when you face the firing-squad, for something not entirely your own doing, depending on your position and skin-tone, the ‘team’ may very-well leave your ass out to dry. Think about what it would take to render [Brown], the GREATEST COMPETITOR of our generation, incapable of showing up to play in his last game.”
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Brown missed the final game of the 2018 regular season for disciplinary reasons.
Mendenhall finished off his longer explanation by writing, “To boil that down to [Brown] being a diva, selfish, quitter couldn’t possibly explain the MAN who for nearly a decade provided professional excellence to the city of Pittsburgh. By no stretch am I saying [Brown’s] been without guilt this off-season. I just hope to see more compassion and examination, for a guy who gave everything he had until he couldn’t bring himself to do it, for even one more game.”
Brown played in Pittsburgh from 2010-18, made seven Pro Bowls, and caught over 100 passes each of the last six seasons, an NFL record.
Due to his frayed relationship with Roethlisberger, and other issues including chronic lateness to work, the Steelers traded Brown to the Oakland Raiders for two draft picks.
Mendenhall retired from the NFL in 2014 after six seasons.
“Football was pretty cool, but I don’t want to play anymore,” Mendenhall said. “I want to travel the world and write!”
Mendenhall currently works as an executive story editor on the HBO series “Ballers.”