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I’m not a Bengals fan, but I’ve asked myself similar questions about other players. I’ll start by saying that I can’t imagine a situation in which I could “forgive” him. I watched the video for the first time today and I will never be able to separate Joe Mixon the football player from the man who threw that punch. However, in certain circumstances I could see myself “tolerating” him.

The standard argument, I suppose, is this: None of us deserve to be judged solely by the worst thing that we’ve ever done. He did a terrible thing and he was punished. The NFL allowed him to enter the draft and pursue his chosen profession and the Bengals are not the first team to sign a player with a history of violence. What can this man do except for continue on with his life? It’s not like he can self-impose a prison sentence.

Personally, this “standard argument” doesn’t do much for me. First of all, we don’t necessarily know the worst thing that Mixon has ever done; we only know the worst thing that he’s done on camera. Also, the punishment seemed weak to me. (I haven’t researched the situation carefully, though, and I’m not a lawyer or anything so what do I know?) That punch could easily have killed her and I can’t imagine he’d have stayed out of jail in that case. To me, if the worst thing that you’ve ever done is kill someone in Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe then you probably deserve to be judged for that Morally, the fact that she (thankfully) did not die changes very little. (Again, that is only how I view it.)

So, what might tolerance look like? There’s a chance that he’s genuine in his remorse. OU restricted the media’s access to him, but in the little bit that he’s talked about the incident I can’t say that he seems completely full of crap. We obviously can’t know for sure, but contrition is something even if it doesn’t make up for his actions. Maybe he becomes an advocate against violence among athletes or maybe he starts a charity in Cincinnati the area. The video tape will always be meaningful but those types of things would be meaningful, too. I don’t know what his future will look like, but there are scenarios in which I wouldn’t well up with fury every time he scores a touchdown.

Having said all that, maybe you and your family decide that you just can’t stomach it. Maybe you think he is full of crap or maybe it won’t ever matter how much good he does in his life and that’s ok, too. You could follow a different team (it’s not 1991 anymore where the only team you’re guaranteed to see every week is local), you could follow a different sport (though maybe you already do follow all the sports, I don’t know) or you could organize protests to show the organization that the fans really do care about the actions of its players. In summary, I believe that there is a way to reconcile your team’s decision with a moral compass that finds Joe Mixon’s actions abhorrent, but I also think it’s understandable if one is unable to do that.

In my own life, I’ve been moving farther and farther away from football. I’m able to tolerate one or two of these isolated incidents but there are just too many holes in the dam. The shocking number of players that have been accused of violent and/or sexual crimes is difficult for me and it’s hard for me to watch a game anymore without thinking of CTE.

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