Updated: July 21, 2011 9:00AM
RALEIGH, N.C. — Pittsburgh Steelers running back and former Illini star Rashard Mendenhall is suing the parent company of the Champion apparel maker after his endorsement deal was dropped over his 9/11 Twittering.
The complaint says Champion’s decision to end its deal with Mendenhall in May violated a contract.
“For Rashard, this really is not about the money. This is about whether he can express his opinion,” said Steven Thompson, an attorney representing Mendenhall.
But legal experts were skeptical.
“An athlete contracts away his free speech rights in signing his endorsement deal,” said sports law professor Jeffrey Standen.
After bin Laden was killed, Mendenhall tweeted, “It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side . . .” He also tweeted of Sept. 11: “I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style.” AP