Hi Mike -
You and I have never corresponded. Well, I guess if you count the season ticket invoice you send me every February as "correspondence," then I do actually hear from you on an annual basis, but as much as I've wanted to, I've never really thought much about asking for much from you. You own the team I root for, and while I haven't always agreed with the way you've run your business, I've always respected your right to handle your affairs in whatever way you see fit.
But I can't help but feel compelled to ask you do something, just this once.
Do the right thing, Mike.
Not the easy thing. Not the thing that's going to make for less work. The right thing.
Do it, Mike.
Let's start with Adam Jones. I'm sure it caught your notice that he's avoided felony prosecution from that little incident back in January. You remember, right? The one where he wished death upon a Cincinnati Police Officer? Yeah, that one. Cut him.
That was more than just a bad night for Adam, who I know you've come to grow fond of. And it was more than just another example of him being misunderstood, or the in the dreaded wrong place at the wrong time. It was him acting belligerent, again putting himself in the cross-hairs of both the legal system and the league office. This guy is an abuser, Mike. Of people, but also of opportunity. He's abusing the opportunity that you've continued to give him. Do you like being abused, Mike?
Do you like having someone work for you that behaves the way Adam does? That treats authority the way the Rooney family's team treats yours? Do you want someone who behaves the way toward police officers the way Adam does representing your team? Your city? Your family?
Come on, Mike. You know what to do. Do the right thing.
Don't just do it with Adam Jones. Do it with Joe Mixon.
You know who Joe Mixon is, don't you? Surely your coaches do. They brought him to town recently to gauge whether your team should draft him next month. He's a talented guy, a running back with an elite combination of size and speed, a guy who can hit holes and get yards after contact. He can be effective catching passes out of the backfield, and his shiftiness blends with his toughness to make him a bona fide weapon in your league.
While at Oklahoma. He also once punched a woman with such force that he broke four bones in her face. Surely, you've heard about this. The woman required surgery and her jaw was wired shut. She had no feeling on the left side of her face for six months, and it took nearly a year before she could eat solid foods. You have a daughter, Mike. A granddaughter. Can you imagine?
What's almost as bad is what Joe Mixon's lawyers did during his defense. Initially, they claimed that their client did nothing wrong. Then, they tried to insinuate that the young lady that Mr. Mixon cold-cocked was "troubled," and therefore complicit in what was done to her. Calling it disgusting doesn't quite do it justice, does it?
And listen, you're going to hear from those - maybe even some who draw a check from you - who refer to what Joe Mixon did as a "two-second mistake." Don't buy it. A two-second mistake is what happens when Andy Dalton has to throw on the run, not blasting a defenseless woman in the face. Be better than that. Tell those who work for you to be better than that.
Don't draft this guy, Mike.
Write up a memo. Hand down an edict. Hold a mandatory staff meeting. Make a public statement if you want. Whatever you do, make it painfully clear to the people you have working for you that in your team's search for a running back, it'll be taking a pass on Joe Mixon.
There are other backs, Mike. Good ones too. And even if none of them possess the raw ability of Joe Mixon, none will make you and I feel like we're selling our souls for the sake of rooting for them. You've waited a long time to have a winner, Mike. If the difference between victories that have thus-far been elusive is a woman-batterer, then what's the harm in waiting a little longer?
I know you love giving people second chances, Mike. In some cases, like with your head coach, you'll give 13, 14, sometimes 15 chances to get the job done. You've given lots of young men second opportunities. Some have cashed in, others like Adam Jones have left you hanging. Joe Mixon is going to get his second chance. Let's let someone else give it to him. Be comfortable with him taking advantage of a second chance elsewhere.
Your team will be fine without these two, Mike. You've decided that your team can win without Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, two guys who never made you regret investing in them, and two men who helped you achieve some of your greatest successes. If you can win without them, you can win without Adam Jones and Joe Mixon.
You've got a chance here, Mike. A rare one. It's a chance to not only do what's right, but show that you stand for something. That you're willing to do something besides play lip service to things like character and integrity. It's a chance to stand out among your peers as being willing put sensibilities of common decency ahead of all else. It's a chance to take those critics of yours who charge that you don't care about winning as much as you should and tell them that, yeah, they're right.
I like your team, Mike. Have since the age of seven. I like you too. You seem like a good, decent, man. The kind of guy whose values are worth admiring. That's why I feel like I can appeal to you and it's why I trust that despite whatever urges you may feel and however you may be influenced by outsiders, you'll do what you and I ultimately know is right.
At least I hope.