“Since the incident three years ago, Joe was suspended by the football team, pleaded guilty in court, and accepted the consequences of his actions,” Brown wrote. “He later went on to become a good citizen in Norman, a popular teammate, a player respected by his coaches, and one of the most talented players in college football.”
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Mixon, who was surrounded by media the moment he walked into the locker room for the first day of rookie camp Friday, said he had not seen the letter but was appreciative of it.
“Thank you, Mike Brown, for that,” he said. “(I’m) just trying to move on and come out here and compete and learn this playbook so we can get our team a win.”
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Here is the complete op-ed, titled “An open letter to our fans,” from Brown:
In the NFL draft last Friday, the Cincinnati Bengals selected a very talented football player who did a terrible thing his freshman year at college.
The player – Joe Mixon – is a top level football player by everyone’s account. Joe’s regrettable deed was that he struck a young woman, another student, shortly after arriving on campus in Norman, Oklahoma, three years ago.
Joe and this young woman recently met in person, came to terms with the incident, and they agreed to resolve their differences so they could move forward with their lives. While the circumstances that led up to the incident are unclear – what is clear is that it is unacceptable for a man to strike a woman.
Since the incident three years ago, Joe was suspended by the football team, pleaded guilty in court, and accepted the consequences of his actions. He later went on to become a good citizen in Norman, a popular teammate, a player respected by his coaches, and one of the most talented players in college football.
The Bengals take pride in our hometown and want to provide winning football on the field and successful players off the field. 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.
Mixon said it was good to take his first steps on an NFL field despite the dismal, chilly and rainy conditions.
“I’m trying to acclimate myself and get my feet wet,” he added. “It’s a wet day, slipping and sliding out there cutting. I’m just going out there and having fun with my teammates. I’m just blessed to be in this situation to do that.”
Mixon acknowledged that in addition to learning the playbook, he needs to work on getting in shape, which is something head coach Marvin Lewis touched on during his press conference after practice.
Asked what stood out to him about Mixon, Lewis replied: “That he spent too much time traveling around visiting clubs. He needs to get in shape again. A lot of guys go through that. That’s one of the things when they come here to visit, you always encourage them that the next week and a half, to get back on their training routine because they’ve spent the last two or three weeks traveling and visiting teams. I think Joe visited half the teams in the league.
“They’ve got to get back and get after it and get back to work and get their conditioning level and their running back up,” Lewis continued. “And then it’s a different kind of running when you’re doing football, as opposed to the Combine training these guys were doing.”
When Mixon took the field, he was wearing No. 28, which was different from the No. 34 he held up at his introductory press conference last weekend. He said both numbers are special to him because Walter Payton wore 34 and Adrian Peterson, who preceded Mixon at Oklahoma, wears 28.
“Walter Payton was my favorite running back ahead of Adrian Peterson,” Mixon said. “As time went on and I got older, I looked at Adrian Peterson and tried to model my game after him.”
Mixon said he has studied film on YouTube.com of Payton, Peterson, Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders, Jerome Bettis and a former Bengals great who wore 28, Corey Dillon. And Mixon thinks his game is comprised of a little bit of each their styles.
“I feel like I’m a back that can do it all,” he said. “But only time will tell. I’m just looking forward to that time.”
Mixon said he’s excited to get on the field with all the other weapons the Bengals have on offense.
“It’s definitely going to be special,” he said. “We’ve got home-run threats all around the field. Once we all get acclimated as one, good luck to the other team.”