On Twitter, athletes and UBL

Posted by Jeff Rice on May 3, 2011 

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall has created a national stir with his curious comments about the death of Osama Bin Laden on Twitter, proving once again that although Twitter allows you to reach the world with whatever happens to be going on in your brain at any given moment (140 characters worth, that is), the world probably shouldn't always hear it.

Bin Laden's death has unified most of the country and, in turn, most of its athletes. Here's a random sampling of what Penn State football players were saying, excuse me, tweeting, about the event in the hours and days afterward:

From left tackle Quinn Barham, shortly after the news broke ... "its about to get real folks"

From tight end Garry Gilliam: "I'm pretty sure we gonna get attacked again now =/ #bittersweet"

From former Nittany Lion Michael Robinson: "President Obama is a real cool dude! Like his pimp walk lol. But in all honesty, this is a great moment for our country."

And this, from the never-disappointing Brandon Ware: "Osama Bin Laden dead...Can gas go down now?"

As you can see, the reactions range from reflective to celebratory to humorous to nervous -- which is pretty much what you'd see in any crosssection of tweets nationwide. Fortunately, Penn State's athletes seem to realize that the issue is sensitive enough that they shouldn't post anything incredibly controversial. Mendenhall is entitled to his feelings, but he should have been smart enough to know that his comments, with or without context (and there isn't much room for context in the Tweetosphere) would cause a firestorm for him and his team.

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