The Roughrider’s newest addition at defensive line was farming out near Vancouver when he got the call to come out to Saskatchewan—but it wasn’t his farming that was front and centre after practice Wednesday.
The Roughriders signed Khalif Mitchell, who has been a controversial figure in the CFL for some of his past actions including racist and anti-Semitic tweets off the field and dirty hits on the field.
Mitchell was criticized in 2015 for retweeting a link to a documentary that denied the holocaust. He was fined by the league and apologized, vowing to work with a Jewish organization to learn more about it.
His Twitter feed still contains some questionable material as recently as two weeks ago.
But when asked about his reputation, Mitchell made no apologies for who he was.
“I’m very seasoned, I’ve been around pretty much all the good and the bad at the maximum extremes, so I think really what’s going on here is I’ve got the opportunity to go ahead and show everybody who I am,” Mitchell said, inviting people to look him up so they can learn more about him.
“I’m just myself. I’m comfortable being myself, I’m an outspoken guy.”
Chris Jones said he spoke with Mitchell on the phone before bringing him to Saskatchewan, and now the team wants to see what kind of shape he’s in. He’s currently on the team’s practice roster.
“He’s got a ways to go shape wise, but he’s looking good one-on-one, so we’ll just have to see,” Jones said, adding that the team is really missing another big body on the defensive line.
“(Corvey Irvin)’s been our only guy in the middle and so we needed to bring in at least another guy to look at,” Jones said. “We’re looking for some experience to add to some of the youth that we have, just to see if possibly it might be the winning mixture.”
Jones said he was aware of Mitchell’s past and hopes he’s grown up from it.
“We’ve spoken on it and he’s a couple years older and I’m hoping Khalif knows where he’s at in his life,” Jones said.
Jones was asked about more recent tweets by Mitchell but said he wasn’t on social media and hadn’t heard about or seen any of them.
Mitchell hasn’t played in the CFL since 2015 when he was released by Montreal. He was obviously thrilled about getting another chance.
“It feels blessed … It’s really good to be back at the game,” Mitchell said.
- Rob Bagg was back on the field practicing and Jones said he should be good to play in Sunday’s Labour Day Classic.
- Curtis Steele ran for the first time without pain a couple days ago and is getting closer to returning, the coach said.
- Both Brendon LaBatte and Chris Best continue to mend from their injuries and worked out with the team’s strength coaches recently. Jones said both looked good and he’s eager to get them back, but he also doesn’t want to rush things. “One of our biggest Achilles heels this year is our ratio and whether we’re going to have to do two or three defensively and who is going to go at guard. So I’m going to wait and when they say they’re completely healthy we’ll put them out there and let them roll,” he said.