CINCINNATI (AP) — The Bengals are facing a backlash over their decision to draft running back Joe Mixon, who punched a woman in the face while at Oklahoma.
Cincinnati added to its reputation for embracing players with troubled histories when it took Mixon in the second round. Even before Mixon arrived in town on Saturday, the choice was getting panned.
WCPO-TV posted an editorial on Saturday afternoon saying the club had gone too far this time. The editorial urged fans to stop buying Bengals tickets and instead donate money to organizations that work to prevent violence against women.
Wearing a black Bengals polo shirt and a gold chain, Mixon got a warm reception at a fan event at Paul Brown Stadium. He knew there were mixed feelings out in the community.
“It’s not really about winning anybody over,” Mixon said in an interview. “I come here to work and to be the best teammate, the best person, and try to do whatever I can around the community and get everybody together.”
Bengals owner Mike Brown has a fondness for trying to rehabilitate players with off-field problems, a trend that continues with their newest running back.
The club signed linebacker Vontaze Burfict after every team passed on him in the 2012 draft, and he wound up suspended by the NFL for illegal hits. Cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones was arrested again this offseason on misdemeanor charges, including assault for a confrontation at a downtown hotel.
After Jones’ arrest, the team issued an apology for the cornerback’s behavior . Video from the police cruiser showed him cursing police and saying he hopes one of the officers dies. Despite their apology, the Bengals chose to keep Jones anyway.
Mixon shares an agent with Jones and has talked to him once or twice.
“He’s a good dude,” Mixon said. “Coming over here, I’m sure he’ll show me around.”
Three months after Jones’ arrest video was released by police, Bengals fans are watching a different video, the one showing Mixon punching Amelia Molitor in July 2014. The punch broke bones in her face and resulted in a one-year suspension at Oklahoma.
The local television station’s editorial said it was “disgraceful” to draft Mixon, who also was suspended for a game last season over a confrontation with a parking attendant
“Enough is enough, Bengals,” the editorial said. “We can excuse another season without winning a playoff game. We can’t excuse drafting a player like Joe Mixon.”
The choice was panned immediately by fans at the draft in Philadelphia, who booed when Bengals Hall of Fame tackle Anthony Munoz announced the selection .
The Bengals made Mixon available for interviews on Saturday, saying it would be the only chance to ask him about his past. Future interviews will be restricted by the club to football-related questions, part of the club’s efforts to take the focus off Mixon’s past conduct.
“He gets an opportunity to move forward and write his script from there on,” coach Marvin Lewis said Friday night.
WHAT A KICK: Memphis kicker Jake Elliott was their first pick in the fifth round, adding to competition at the spot. The Bengals released Mike Nugent last season, signed Randy Bullock for the rest of the season, and then gave him a two-year deal.
BUSY DAYS: The Bengals had eight picks in the last four rounds: DE Carl Lawson, Auburn; WR Josh Malone, Tennessee; DT Ryan Glasgow, Michigan; Elliott; C J.J. Dielman, Utah; LB Jordan Evans, Oklahoma; CB Brandon Wilson, Houston; TE Mason Schreck, Buffalo.
STILL NEED HELP: The offensive line became the biggest problem area after left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right guard Kevin Zeitler left as free agents. It’s still the top concern. Cincinnati drafted Dielman in the fifth round. He’s still recovering from a foot injury suffered last season.