Can Cincinnati Bengals fans ever truly accept Joe Mixon?

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Oct 15, 2016; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon (25) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Kansas State Wildcats during the first quarter at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 15, 2016; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon (25) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Kansas State Wildcats during the first quarter at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Bengals made waves when they used their second round pick to select controversial Joe Mixon. Can fans of the Bengals ever truly accept him?

By now, everyone knows the story about Bengals second round pick Joe Mixon. In 2014, the then Oklahoma Sooner struck a woman in the face after a dispute. The whole thing was captured on video for the world to see. As a result, Mixon was suspended for the 2014 NCAA season.

Because of this incident, many sports fans decided they would never cheer for Mixon if he made it to the NFL. Now that he is a Bengal, fans of the men in stripes have a moral decision to make: Cheer for the Bengals and Mixon by association, or abandon the team completely.

Draft Decisions

The decision to draft Mixon was one that caused waves of controversy throughout the Bengals’ fan base. Some people were excited about getting a talented “every down” back. Others were angered and hurt that the team would be willing to align itself with such a controversial player. As a result, many fans have vowed cheer against him and some have even decided to boycott Bengals games.

Essentially, everything Mixon does will be closely scrutinized. If he slips up even once, a media firestorm will reign down on Cincinnati. However, at this point, it’s the fan base’s reaction that will be more interesting to watch.

What If Mixon Succeeds?

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Many Bengals fans are in an awkward spot now that Mixon is on the team. Diehard fans want to see the Bengals win a championship. However, many of them detest the choice to draft him and want him to fail. Obviously, if the second-round pick fails, the team will most likely fail as well. So what if Mixon does succeed? How would fans handle seeing him interviewed after winning a playoff game or even a Super Bowl?

These are all interesting questions that each fan will have to wrestle with. Furthermore, the Mixon situation presents a major marketing dilemma for the team. When a star player is most well-known for a physical assault, it’s hard to sell that player to the public. In the same way, it wouldn’t be a great thing for the Bengals’ franchise to have Mixon as the face of it. If he is really as good as some people think he is, this may just be the case.

What Will It Take For Fans To Embrace Mixon?

The popular adage states that “time heals all.” In the world of sports, it’s winning that heals all. People love stories of redemption. In fact, it is in no way uncommon for athletes to have run-ins with the law and still be accepted by their fan base. Kobe Bryant, Ray Lewis, and Michael Vick are all prime examples of this phenomena.

One problem for Mixon however, is that he was not a well-known or beloved athlete before his incident occurred. All of the players mentioned above were more established and had a larger fan base to draw from after their return.

While the world may not be very well acquainted with Mixon other than what they know from the videotape, his teammates at Oklahoma had nothing but glowing things to say about him. They said that he had a great personality and was a model teammate. To win some of his doubters over, he will have to showcase this softer side. In addition, for Mixon to ever truly turn his reputation around, he will have to try ten times harder than the average player. He will be expected to sign every autograph, attend every charity, and speak out vehemently against violence toward women. If he does all these things, maybe he can slowly start winning back the public.

Next: Apology Accepted?

The Winning Formula

It is possible that all will be forgiven if Mixon has a banner year. Let’s not forget that Ezekiel Elliott was in some trouble when he got drafted as well but things seemed to work out for him. The key for Mixon will be whether his play on the field will be enough to offset the lasting image of the punch that is still ingrained in everyone’s mind. If he can prove that he is a valuable asset to the team and that he has changed since that brutal 2014 surveillance tape was recorded, he could very well someday be a beloved athlete in the Queen City.

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