The CFL has chimed in to the Khalif Mitchell conversation after the Roughriders signed the controversial defensive lineman Wednesday.
In an emailed statement, Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said there was no place in the league for commentary that disparages people “on the basis of their religion, race, gender or sexual orientation.”
Mitchell was fined by the CFL in 2015 for tweeting a link to a holocaust denial documentary. Along with the fine the league required him to meet with B’Nai Brith Canada to educate him on human rights matters. Mitchell has continued to tweet and retweet offensive memes and conspiracy theories since that fine.
Orridge said he was assured by the Riders that they take the matter very seriously and Mitchell will be on a short leash. However, the CFL will not depend on the Riders alone for enforcement.
“We too will monitor any commentary he may make as a member of our League,” Orridge said in the statement.
Roughriders head coach Chris Jones said he has received some emails about the signing of Mitchell, including from the Jewish community. He said he spent about an hour on the phone Thursday morning with Jewish leadership in Toronto outlining the team’s stance.
“We’re here to play football and to coach football and again like we said, if there’s anything that’s said then Khalif won’t be here,” Jones said.
This will be the second time Mitchell and Jones have worked together, the first time when both were in the Toronto Argonauts organization and Jones said he didn’t have any trouble with Mitchell.
“He’s more of a team guy than what people would anticipate or what they know about him. I had him for 12 months and I know what we need to do and how we need to handle Khalif,” he said.
“Khalif is an outspoken guy and what he’s got to understand is if he says something, even if it’s his own view sometimes things are misconstrued,” he said. “The less you talk the better off you are.”
For his part, Mitchell has turned his Twitter account to private at the suggestion of Jones. This means that only people who had followed Mitchell before the account went private are able to see what he tweets. It also means anyone who wants to follow him in the future will have to be approved by him.
“A lot of the reaction was based off of a lot of misinterpretations about (me) that was just farfetched. I mean a lot of people look at me as somebody that the media portrayed as an anti-Semitic type of person and all I was doing was finding my own Hebrew Semitic backgrounds and my own source of where I’m from,” Mitchell said Thursday.
“Just because I’m looking (into) my people doesn’t mean I’m anti anybody else, I mean I’m a child of God, I love God. I serve him everyday,” Mitchell added.