Archive for May 6th, 2011

The backlash to Rashard Mendenhall’s Osama bin Laden tweets has gotten a little more real.

Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers running back and guy who probably doesn’t like Twitter anymore, has been let go as a spokesman for Champion. Here’s the statement released by the company, via USA Today:

Champion is a strong supporter of the government’s efforts to fight terrorism and is very appreciative of the dedication and commitment of the U.S. Armed Forces. Earlier this week,Rashard Mendenhall(notes), who endorses Champion products, expressed personal comments and opinions regarding Osama bin Laden and the September 11 terrorist attacks that were inconsistent with the values of the Champion brand and with which we strongly disagreed. In light of these comments, Champion was obliged to conduct a business assessment to determine whether Mr. Mendenhall could continue to effectively communicate on behalf of and represent Champion with consumers. While we respect Mr. Mendenhall’s right to express sincere thoughts regarding potentially controversial topics, we no longer believe that Mr. Mendenhall can appropriately represent Champion and we have notified Mr. Mendenhall that we are ending our business relationship. Champion has appreciated its association with Mr. Mendenhall during his early professional football career and found him to be a dedicated and conscientious young athlete. We sincerely wish him all the best.

Mr. or Mrs. Champion, or whoever is in charge of the company, has a right to employ whoever they want as a celebrity endorser, and since Mendenhall’s words run pretty contrary to public opinion, it’s probably best for their bottom line to cut and run. I don’t blame them.

They get some headlines out of the deal, too (like this one, for example), and they also get to release a tidy little statement in which they mention their company’s name seven times in six sentences.

I’m pretty sure this won’t be the case, but I hope this is where the punishment ends for Mendenhall.

At the end of the day, this is just a guy who tweeted something unpopular. He did not punch anyone in the face. He did not get picked up for driving drunk. He was not arrested for domestic abuse. He did not have a gun in a night club, father 47 children by 39 women, obstruct justice, fight dogs, commit sexual assault or send anyone unwanted pictures of his genitals.

No, what he did was question the celebration of death and wonder if maybe the government wasn’t telling the people the truth (others have also done this recently). Is that so bad?

I’m not defending what Mendenhall said. You don’t have to like it. I personally don’t happen to agree with him, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to permanently label him as an evil dipstick, either. It’s OK with me that not everyone is going to be John Cena about this.

Even if Mendenhall is wrong — really, really wrong — it doesn’t make him a bad guy. In fact, at the core of what he said, there’s a seed of love and compassion. He spoke against hate and judgment.

He believes some unpopular things. That’s it. I know that I cheer everyday for athletes with whom I would not agree on political or ethical issues, and you probably do the same. In fact, if you’re a sports fan at all, it’s overwhelmingly likely that you have cheered for guys who have broken actual laws and hurt actual people.

Mendenhall lost an endorsement, and he probably should have expected that. If he loses any more than that, though — for example, the good will of the fans for the rest of his career — it would be a shame. This is not a bad person.


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Hines Ward(notes) was handcuffed at gunpoint Thursday morning in Los Angeles after police pulled over a car he was in that had been reported stolen.

Take it away, TMZ:

The “Dancing With the Stars” contestant was a passenger in a Honda Civic around 2 AM … when LAPD officers flipped on their lights and sirens and pulled the car over.

Law enforcement sources tell us cops had run the license plate and noticed the car had been reported stolen.  We’re told police drew their weapons … and ordered both Hines and the female driver out of the car and placed them both in handcuffs.

The female driver then explained … SHE was the person who reported the car stolen in the first place after an incident involving a valet. But she got her car back … and forgot to tell cops to call off the alert.

The natural question arises: a Honda Civic? Hines couldn’t spring for the Accord for he and his lady friend? I know the lockout has made it tough for NFL players, but come on.

Related: Petition on Yahoo! Sports Facebook to bring back the NFL

TMZ reports that once police cleared up the mess, Ward and his friend were allowed to leave the scene. The Steelers wideout was “very cooperative and understanding” during the incident.

Ward is one of five celebrities left in ABC’s reality dance competition. Well, four if you don’t include Chelsea Kane.

Before you jump to any conclusions about this story, Ward’s teammate Rashard Mendenhall(notes) would caution that you have an open, honest discussion about it that consists of doubting the validity of anything said by somebody in a position of authority and coming up with bogus alternative theories that don’t make sense on any rational level.


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She may be a hillbilly, but she knows her rights.

Actress Donna Douglas is suing Mattel for using her photo on packaging for an “Elly May” Barbie doll, based on the character she made famous on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” Elly May Clampett.

Douglas, now 77, alleges that she never “gave Mattel permission to use her name to promote its sale before the toy maker introduced the doll in December 2010,” reports the AP. Douglas is seeking damages and wants Mattel to stop using her image. UPDATE: Mattel spokesperson Jules Andres tells The Lookout the company “licensed the rights to Beverly Hillbillies for this product through appropriate channels.”

Douglas appeared in all 274 episodes of Beverly Hillbillies from 1962 to 1971. Mattel also recently released dolls based on the main characters of two other classic TV shows: “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Bewitched.”

Barbie’s parent company is no stranger to controversy, though it’s usually less about law suits and more about gender stereotypes. In 2009, when Barbie turned 50, the company launched a new Ken doll called “Sugar Daddy Ken.” Mattel claimed the name referred to the doll’s dog, named Sugar, instead of the slang term for a man who showers money on women in exchange for sexual relationships.

“At the end of the day, this collection is targeted toward adults,” spokeswoman Michelle Chidoni told ABC at the time. “While the name of the doll does refer back to the dog, I think people are going to interpret it as they want to interpret it.”

The dolls have also been criticized for promoting an unattainable–and in fact, unnatural–ideal body size for young girls. Just last month, college student Galia Slayen made her own “life-size” Barbie doll for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, to show how distorted the doll’s measurements are when blown up to human proportions. The life-size doll is 6 feet tall with a 39″ bust, 18″ waist and 33″ hips. To see a photo of the monstrous-looking statue, click here.

Mattel shot back. “Girls see female body images everywhere today and it’s critical that parents and caregivers provide perspective on what they are seeing. It’s important to remember that Barbie is a doll who stands 11.5 inches tall and weighs 7.25 ounces–she was never modeled on the proportions of a real person,” a spokeswoman told MSNBC.

And way back in 1992, the company rewired a talking Barbie to no longer say “math class is tough!” after women’s groups protested it was promoting stereotypes that women are naturally less proficient at math than men. Barbie-loving math nerds were somewhat vindicated when the company began selling Computer Engineer Barbie, pictured above, last year.


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