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Steelers leaders admonish Mendenhall for controversial tweets

Short of a statement released by team president Art Rooney II, the Steelers front office has had little to say about running back Rashard Mendenhall's controversial Twitter posts following the death of Osama bin Laden.

But some Steelers players, including team captain James Farrior, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in a story for Saturday's editions that Mendenhall's comments, in which he criticized many peoples' reaction to bin Laden's death and questioned the events of 9/11, were out of line.

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"He made some comments that he probably shouldn't have made at the sensitive time that it was," Farrior said. "You can voice your opinions, but you don't want to try to offend people that have strong feelings about that. You've got to think about everybody that's involved."

Among Mendenhall's posts, the day after the bin Laden news broke, was: "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..." He also tweeted on 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." The latter post was eventually removed from Mendenhall's Twitter page.

Mendenhall, 24, later attempted to clarify his remarks via his website.

"First, I want people to understand that I am not in support of Bin Laden, or against the USA," Mendenhall wrote. "I understand how devastating 9/11 was to this country and to the people whose families were affected. Not just in the U.S., 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. Last year, I was grateful enough to have the opportunity to travel overseas and participate in a football camp put on for the children of U.S. troops stationed in Germany. It was a special experience. These events have had a significant impact in my life."

Mendenhall also specifically pointed out the "celebrates death" tweet.

"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."

The Steelers were quick to distance themselves from Mendenhall's comments. Rooney released a statement in which he said it was "hard to comprehend" what the Steelers running back meant by his comments. Champion ultimately dropped Mendenhall as an endorser, even though the sports apparel company had recently signed him to a four-year contract.

"You live and you learn, and I hope everybody accepts his apology," said cornerback Ike Taylor. "Some mistakes are bigger than others, and I say this is a huge mistake. It's just something you can't say. He'll learn from it.

"As long as he doesn't keep making the same mistake we're all good with it."

Mendenhall was back tweeting again Saturday, writing, "If I'm ever quiet, its not because I don't have anything to say. Its just that I can't say it."

And later, "I've learned more these last few weeks than some people will ever even attempt to learn their whole lives..."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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