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Mendenhall backs Peterson's 'slave' comment

| Thursday, March 17, 2011

Running back Rashard Mendenhall is drawing attention to himself — and not because of his costly fumble in Super Bowl XLV.

Mendenhall on Wednesday supported Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's analogy between the NFL and the slave trade.

"It is a lot deep than most people understand," Mendenhall posted on the social networking site Twitter. "Anyone with knowledge of the slave trade and the NFL could say that these two parallel each other."

Peterson, a perennial All-Pro, fired the most controversial salvo between players and owners following the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987.

Players decertified as a union Friday after they could not reach a deal with the owners on a new collective bargaining agreement. The owners responded by locking out the players Saturday.

"It's modern-day slavery, you know?" Peterson told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday. "People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too. With all the money ... the owners are trying to get a different percentage, and bring in more money. I understand that; these are business-minded people. Of course this is what they are going to want to do. I understand that; it's how they got to where they are now. But as players, we have to stand our ground and say, 'Hey — without us, there's no football.'

"I don't really see this going to where we'll be without football for a long time; there's too much money lost for the owners. Eventually, I feel that we'll get something done."

Peterson's comments generated heavy criticism, including from some NFL players.

Mendenhall, however, stood behind Peterson in a series of tweets posted late Tuesday and yesterday.

Mendenhall declined an interview requested from the Tribune-Review through his agent, Mike McCartney. McCartney confirmed that Mendenhall authored the tweets that appeared on his official Twitter site.

The Steelers also declined comment.

Mendenhall, who was coming off a second straight 1,000-yard season, is an unlikely player in the firestorm Peterson started. He is generally reserved around the media.

But he did not back off his Twitter comments, firing back at those who were critical of him.

"If you look back and dissect what I said, I didn't say that the NFL was slavery, I said that they parallel each other. Look up the word parallel," he wrote. "I could break down how but that would take an amount of ideology and big words that a lot of you wouldn't understand."

Another Mendenhall tweet said: "Learn to LISTEN before you pass judgement. Because speaking without knowledge of subject is truly ignorant."

Twitter has become popular among professional athletes.

Among the Steelers who have active accounts on Twitter or Facebook, another social media website, include receiver Hines Ward, strong safety Troy Polamalu and outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.

Professional athletes' use of Twitter became a hot topic in November after Buffalo Bills receiver Steve Johnson dropped what would have been a game-winning touchdown pass against the Steelers. After the Steelers 19-16 overtime win, Johnson sent a tweet blaming God for his miscue.

That drew attention to the drawbacks the immediacy of social media.

Mendenhall is coming off one of the best seasons by a Steelers running back. He rushed for 1,273 yards and 13 touchdowns.

However, he lost a fumble at a critical juncture of last month's Super Bowl.

It came when the Steelers, who had scored 14 unanswered points, were driving in the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers.

The Steelers, who were trailing 21-17 when Mendenhall fumbled, lost, 31-25.

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