Pittsburgh Steelers Suspend Running Back Rashard Mendenhall

By Curt Popejoy
Pittsburgh Steelers
Charles LeClaire-US Presswire

News out of the Steel City is that troubled Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rahsard Mendenhall has been suspended for one game for what is being called “conduct detrimental to the team”. This can’t come as a huge surprise, but what exactly is the story?

Mendenhall was informed late last week that he would be inactive for the Steelers game against the San Diego Chargers. It would seem that Mendenhall did not take that very well, and chose not to even bother to show up to the stadium for the game. This is just the next thing in a long line of problems Mendenhall has had going back to last season.

Mendenhall started the year recovering from a knee injury suffered late in the 2011 season. His start of the year was in question and it seemed that every week the discussion was, “when would Mendenhall get back on the field?” but in the back of my mind, I never thought it would happen. In fact, I said at the start of the year that Mendenhall would never play for the Steelers again. I suppose I was wrong in that the Steelers tried to get him on the field in 4 games to the tune of 34 carries and 113 yards. Nothing to write home about, that’s for sure.

Mendenhall has been an outspoken guy in the past, taking to Twitter to speak his mind about a number of issues. But it’s always been clear he was an intelligent and articulate young man, having been published on huffingtonpost.com where he presents his thoughts in a clear and concise manner. I’ve always appreciated the fact that no matter what he says, you can tell he measures his words carefully.

But this is the NFL, and it’s all about production. And one tentacle of that is about the fiscal side of it. Mendenhall has been good, having topped 1,000 yards rushing in 2 of his 5 years, but to a man I’m not sure anyone can say he has been a good return on the investment of a first round draft pick.

I won’t be at all shocked if he doesn’t dress the rest of the season, and I won’t be shocked if he is not re-signed in the offseason. The Steelers have put together a nice platoon of backs, and there’s no reason to believe they are going to sign Mendenhall to an extension given all the circumstances of the past year. Personally, I wish Mendenhall was healthy because when he is, this offense is better. But he isn’t, and this team is still trying to make the playoffs so the focus must be on that. Mendenhall knew when he didn’t who up last Sunday he would be in trouble for it. This was all by design, so I don’t expect this to be the last episode of this drama.

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