CINCINNATI -- Bengals owner Mike Brown published a letter in the Cincinnati Enquirer on Friday, pledging his support for the controversial selection of running back Joe Mixon in the second round of the NFL draft.
The Bengals have received criticism for drafting Mixon, who punched a woman in the face and fractured her jaw during his freshman year at Oklahoma in 2014. Mixon, who recently settled his civil suit with the woman, Amelia Molitor, was considered a first-round talent but slid to Day 2 of the draft.
Mixon spoke to the media prior to his first practice of rookie minicamp Friday. He said he had not read the letter but appreciated the support.
"I've been just trying to get in here and be with my teammates and move forward with the situation," Mixon said. "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."
In the letter, Brown wrote that it was "unacceptable for a man to strike a woman," but that Mixon has served his punishment for the incident.
"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 the coaches and one of the most talented players in college football."
Brown wrote that Mixon is "rare football talent" and feels that Mixon's past transgressions are behind him. Brown admitted the Bengals took a risk in drafting Mixon.
"In this case, the risk has an upside as well as a downside," Brown wrote. "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 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."
This is the first public statement Brown has made regarding the addition of Mixon after declining to speak immediately after the draft last week. Brown doesn't address the media or make public statements often; however, this spring has been an exception.
"He knows full well what he has done to himself," Brown told Bengals.com and the Cincinnati Enquirer. "He regrets it. But it's been made into a public issue, and maybe I am overly tolerant. If so, so be it."