Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown has a reputation as a guy willing to take risks on problem players for the sake of value and production on the football field.
It wasn’t any surprise, then, to see Brown and the Bengals take a gamble on controversial Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon in the 2017 NFL draft, the prospect who punched a woman in the face, an incident caught fully on camera.
Brown has heard the backlash from fans and decided to pen an open letter to them over at the Cincinnati Enquirer:
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.
Brown is correct in many ways—Mixon plead guilty, was suspended by the team and has overly lived with the consequences. He also met with the victim and they parted on good terms. But these factors have been public knowledge and asking fans to overlook the incident isn’t going to fly with some.
This letter, at the least, is a step in the right direction for Brown as opposed to simply making a move of this nature and remaining silent. It’s nice to have the perspective of the man making the calls.
Here’s to hoping Brown is right in that Mixon’s last three years of conduct are a sign of things to come and that he can make a positive change in the community while putting his ugly past behind him. Football aside, Brown clearly sees a young man who deserves a chance. The letter is worth a read, at the least.