In a letter published Friday in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Bengals owner and president Mike Brown addressed why the team drafted Joe Mixon, writing the "risk has an upside as well as a downside" despite the "terrible thing" Mixon did in college.
The controversial running back, who was the subject of national attention after he was shown punching and knocking out a woman on camera, was drafted by the Bengals at No. 48 overall in the second round of the NFL draft last week. Mixon was pegged by many draft analysts to be a Day 2 pick despite questions about his character following the incident, which occurred in July 2014 prior to his freshman season at Oklahoma.
Brown's letter comes three days after a Cincinnati-based advocacy group called on the Bengals to take a stand against domestic violence and sexual assault.
"We expect businesses in our great city, and this includes sports teams, to place a high value on speaking out against both domestic violence and sexual assault," Kristin Smith-Shrimplin, president and CEO of Women Helping Women, told The Associated Press.
Prior to his first rookie minicamp session with the Bengals on Friday, Mixon said he appreciated Brown's support.
"I've been just trying to get in here and be with my teammates and move forward with the situation," Mixon said, according to ESPN's Katherine Terrell. "Thank you Mike Brown for that, but I'm just trying to move on and come out here and compete and learn this playbook and get our team the win."
Oklahoma suspended Mixon for a season for punching Amelia Molitor, a fellow Oklahoma student, after a brief confrontation at a restaurant. Molitor suffered fractured bones in her face, according to The Associated Press. Video of the incident wasn't made public until after a judge ordered the release of security videos in December 2016.
Mixon, 20, completed one year of probation, 100 hours of community service and behavioral counseling as part of a plea agreement to a misdemeanor assault charge, according to court records. Last week, a settlement was reached in the civil lawsuit Molitor filed against Mixon, according to the Associated Press. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
"This is definitely going to be attached to my name the rest of my life and the end of the day I'm going to do whatever I can to move forward and move past it," Mixon told NFL Network's Judy Battista last week after being drafted. "Just keep playing and I look forward to having a great career here and being the best teammate and person possible."
Here is Brown's complete letter:
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.
Mike Brown, President