“I’m not into rejoicing over a killed enemy.”—Kevin Durant
In the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s assassination, the sports world embraced the public eruption of patriotism. From the spontaneous cheers of 40,000 fans in Philly, to amped "Military Appreciation Night" celebrations at stadiums around the country; from the chest-thumping tweets of athletes and sports writers, to entire blocks on sports radio exalting in the rush of bin Laden’s dramatic demise.
Yet some athletes dared to buck the trend, and in the process have learned a tough lesson about the limits of free speech in the jockocracy. Chris Douglas-Roberts, former Memphis basketball All-American and current Milwaukee Buck, responded to bin Laden’s death by listing a litany of reasons for why he wasn’t playing the Toby Keith on repeat, tweeting among other things, “It took 919,967 deaths to kill that one guy. It took 10 years & 2 Wars to kill that…guy. It cost us (USA) roughly $1,188,263,000,000 to kill that………..guy. But we winning though. Haaaa. (Sarcasm).”
Profanity, threats, and the general belief that he was "stupid," a "moron" and that he should shut his "dumb [expletive] mouth" because he is "not intelligent" came rolling in. CDR tried to hit back, tweeting,
“What I’m sayin has nothing to do with 9/11 or that guy (Bin Laden). I still feel bad for the 9/11 families but I feel EQUALLY bad for the war families. … People are telling me to get out of America now b/c I’m against MORE INNOCENT people dying everyday? B/c I’m against a 10 year WAR? Whatever happened to our freedom of speech?..What I’ve learned tonight, athletes shouldn’t have perspectives. But I don’t care. We feel certain ways about things TOO.”
Rashard Mendenhall, the pro-bowl running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, raised eyebrows even higher with his comments, writing, [“For] those of you who said you want to see Bin Laden burn in hell and piss on his ashes, I ask how would God feel about your heart?… 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…”
Mendenhall then took it somewhere Douglas-Roberts did not, raising the exhaustively debunked conspiratorial doubts about the events of 9/11, tweeting, “I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition.” This caused Sports illustrated’s senior football writer Don Banks to write a piece titled, Mendenhall just the latest NFL player to spout utter nonsense.
The outrage intensified to the point where Steelers President Art Rooney II, a big money bundler for President Obama stated, “I have not spoken with Rashard so it is hard to explain or even comprehend what he meant with his recent Twitter comments. The entire Steelers’ organization is very proud of the job our military personnel have done and we can only hope this leads to our troops coming home soon.”