Running back Rashard Mendenhall made national headlines toward the tail end of last season, but not for the right reasons.
After being told by the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff that he wouldn’t be active for a game against San Diego, Mendenhall simply didn’t show up to the stadium. The Steelers lost to the Chargers 34-24.
For his absence, he was suspended for the team’s next game — a 27-24 loss to the Dallas Cowboys which evened the team’s record at 7-7 and crippled their playoff chances.
After signing a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals Wednesday, Mendenhall joined Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 620 and explained the labels that have been placed upon him by media and fans alike aren’t accurate.
“I believe the perception of a situation like that is one thing other than what it actually is,” Mendenhall said. “You know, you can find out on my blog on Huffington Post more about kind of what I think, how I feel and things like that.
“I think I am who I am and that will continue to control itself.”
Mendenhall did play in Pittsburgh’s final two regular season games, carrying the ball 17 times for 69 yards in his Steel City swan song. Now, it’s a fresh start in the desert for the former University of Illinois star.
“There were some offers on the table but I felt good about this place from the beginning,” he said. “Having people that are familiar with you and I feel like (the team) is just on the verge of being close and doing really well.
“There were a lot of factors, but this was the place that was in my heart and then I came down here and I knew I wanted to make that final.”
Mendenhall has had injury issues in his career since being a 2008 first round draft pick of the Steelers. He missed 12 games during his rookie season with a shoulder injury.
He tore his ACL in the final game of the 2011 season and didn’t return until October of last season. Soon after his return, he strained his Achilles tendon. Mendenhall would finish the year with only 182 yards on 51 carries.
Despite his rough 2012 campaign and only getting a one-year pact from the Cardinals, Mendenhall doesn’t feel like he’s got anything to prove.
“I really don’t operate like that,” he said. “I’ve done everything I can to this point and so I’m happy with my career.
“I’m always driven to get better and to improve and I believe I’ve done so every year and I’ll continue to do that. Wherever that takes me as far as my career, I’ll be satisfied with.”