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Mendenhall sues company that dropped him as spokesperson

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By PFW staff

Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall has filed a lawsuit against a clothing company that dropped him as a spokesperson following a controversy for comments Mendenhall made on Twitter account.

The Associated Press reported that Mendenhall's lawyers filed a suit on Monday in North Carolina against Winston Salem-based Hanesbrands Inc., the parent company for Champion. According to the complaint, the company breached its contract by firing the running back for his Twitter comments in May, where he asked why people were celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden and doubted the events of 9/11.

Mendenhall clarified his comments on his blog a few days after the tweets were sent out.

"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 lawsuit reads, according to the AP report.

Mendenhall had endorsed Champion since being drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2008 draft.

In a statement released by Champion, announcing its separation from Mendenahll, the company said that the running back "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.

"We no longer believe that Mr. Mendenhall can appropriately represent Champion and we have notified Mr. Mendenhall that we are ending our business relationship."

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