Ralph N. Paulk affirms in his latest TribLive exclusive what Behind The Steel Curtain speculated last week, that Rashard Mendenhall may have already played his last game for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Mendenhall was suspended for one week for conduct detrimental to the team for not showing up to the Steelers week 14 home game against the San Diego Chargers, after being told the previous Wednesday that he would not be dressing for the second consecutive week.
Conspiracy theorists ran wild debating the true reason for the deactivation in the first place. The most predominant idea pertained to Mendenhall's two fumble performance against the Cleveland Browns in week 12, connecting his deactivation to the situation involving Jonathan Dwyer not dressing for two games following a fumble against the Oakland Raiders.
While neither case was confirmed to be results of the fumbles in question, coincidence often disguises itself as evidence.
Other theories speculated that head coach Mike Tomlin was simply mismanaging his players. Some felt that maybe Mendenhall was not fully recovered from his Achilles injury suffered in week 6 against the Titans, or even the ACL tear that ended his 2011 campaign. What prevented the extinguishing of hot gossip was a veil of silence instituted by the Steelers organization.
On Wednesday, the coaches and players involved broke that silence.
According to Paulk, following the day's practice, Tomlin addressed the situation. "I deem those actions a detriment to our efforts. I stated as such when I met with him, and there would be repercussions of it. We had a good visit. He accepted it. He looks forward to ... rejoining this team and being a positive contribution to our efforts the rest of the way. Obviously, there‘s frustration with his situation. But we all have a job to do. I require all guys have a job to do regardless of personal circumstances. He didn‘t meet the standard in that regard, and he‘s accepted the consequences of it."
Players were quoted as supporting Tomlin's decision to suspend the Steelers former first-round draft pick, while expressing understanding of Mendenhall's frustrations with his situation. Regardless of their sympathies, the majority feeling was that his decision to not join his teammates on Sunday was deserving of the consequences.