When the Bengals drafted Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon last week, the general reaction was along the lines of “of course they did.”
Bengals owner Mike Brown has admitted being perhaps too generous with second chances in the past, but defended the decision to select the man who was caught on video punching a woman in the face. Mixon later reached a civil settlement with the woman, and Brown sounds like he believes that Mixon is a changed man.
Brown wrote a letter to fans published by the Cincinnati Enquirer, in which he referred to Mixon as “a very talented football player who did a terrible thing his freshman year at college.”
“The Bengals take pride in our hometown and want to provide winning football on the field and successful players off the field,” Brown wrote. “That is the reason we drafted Joe – he is a rare football talent, and his conduct over the past three years leads us to believe he can help us win football games and also become a productive member of this community.
“In making our decision, we took a risk. In this case, the risk has an upside as well as a downside. We believe Joe has put this behind him and that he can turn into the player and community member that creates a plus for Cincinnati. We are going to do everything in our power to make this happen. Our hope is that time will prove that this opportunity is deserved, and perhaps – if given a chance – Joe can write a chapter in Cincinnati sports history that both he and Cincinnati can be proud of.”
It’s good that Brown at least acknowledged the obvious — that they drafted a woman-puncher because he was very good at playing football. And their defense of Mixon is either a noble gesture of forgiveness (if he stays out of trouble and plays well) or just another chapter in Brown’s tradition of taking in players other teams won’t touch (if he doesn’t).