The never-ending saga of Khalif Mitchell

Enough is Enough

Khalif Mitchells time in BC was full of highs and lows. The defensive tackle went from being beloved by the fans in 2011 to being seen as a distraction and ultimately being traded to the Toronto Argonauts after the 2012 season.

 2011 Khalif

We all know what Mitchell brought to the BC Lions when he was focused.

His talent and tenacity are just about unmatched throughout the CFL. When he’s on he is the best defensive player in the league, in my mind. He didn’t always have huge numbers, but he always attracts attention from the other team and opens up opportunities for his teammates to make plays.

Khalif Mitchell BC Lions

Mitchell was a top defender but had an attitude. (Photo: CTV news)

And off the field, he was viewed as somewhat of a “gentle giant.” You wouldn’t expect a tenacious defensive lineman to be a self taught pianist, as well as a humble, loving person who always made time for the fans.

He gained the respect of the entire league by turning down big money in the NFL to stay with the Lions before the 2012 season and became a fan favourite in BC.

He plays with incredible passion and if you ever question that, watch his 2011 Grey Cup post-game interview.

But that heart and passion isn’t always channeled in the right way.

 2012 Khalif

Last season, we watched firsthand as Mitchell’s career began to implode.

He was fined twice and suspended for two games for his unnecessary actions on and off the field. His actions, the arm bar on Edmonton Eskimo lineman Simeon Rottier, the throat slash, and the derogatory tweet towards Chinese people were an embarrassment to the BC Lions and the rest of the league.

What was even more embarrassing was his lack of remorse for his actions. He called the arm bar a football play, though it was clearly malicious. He claimed that the throat slash was just a sign of the cross, though it certainly did not look that way. And though he apologized for the tweet, he said that he was not aware that the word he used was offensive.

I’m not sure how a person can be in the Vancouver area for such an extended period of time with such a high Chinese population and not understand how offensive his language was.

All this combined with recurring injury had Mitchell play only 12 of the Lions’ 18 games last season and it was clear that he wasn’t the same player he was in 2011.

 The Trade

As soon as the offseason began, I knew that Mitchell would be moved. With the horrors of the 2012 season still surrounding him and the emergence of Jabar Westerman and Brandon Jordan on the defensive line, Mitchell’s time in BC was over.

On April 2 Mitchell was traded to the Toronto Argonauts for defensive lineman Adrian Awasom and an undisclosed player on Toronto’s negotiation list. He was quick to say, however, that he would not report to the Argos, wishing to play for another Western team due to business obligations off the field.

He now has said that he will report to the Argonauts, but they, or any other team that he plays for in the future, will need to tread lightly.

Mitchell is a loose cannon, he can be a divisive force in the locker room, and needs to constantly be under the microscope. If he can focus and play the way he did in 2011, he will be an important addition to the Argos’ defence.

I hope that he can rebuild his career and leave 2012 behind him.


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