CFL keeping a close eye on Riders’ Mitchell

The CFL and the Saskatchewan Roughriders will be keeping a close eye on controversial defensive lineman Khalif Mitchell, league commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said Thursday.

Any “inappropriate behaviour” from Mitchell, who has been sanctioned twice for violating the league’s social media policy, “will result in his immediate dismissal,” Orridge said in a statement.

The Riders signed Mitchell to their practice roster Wednesday, a move that drew criticism from Canadian Jewish organizations.

Mitchell hasn’t played since being released by the Montreal Alouettes in June 2015. He was fined a month earlier over anti-Semitic posts on his Twitter account, which included a link to a Holocaust denial video.

Orridge said the CFL will be monitoring Mitchell’s social media posts.

“Our social media policy expressly prohibits a current player, team or league employee from using social media, including the retweeting or reposting of someone else’s comments, to condone discrimination, harassment or violence,” Orridge said in a statement. “Since Mitchell has now returned to our league with another club, his new employer has reached out to the league office to assure us they too take this matter very seriously and any such inappropriate behaviour from Mitchell will result in his immediate dismissal.

“We too will monitor any commentary he may make as a member of our league. Such comments, which put the league’s reputation as a progressive and positive member of the community in question, will not be tolerated.”

After being fined in 2015, Mitchell apologized in a joint statement by the CFL Players’ Association and B’nai Brith Canada, saying it was “a learning moment for me.” He agreed to work with B’nai Brith, a Jewish human rights organization, to “educate myself about this and other human rights matters.”

But Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said Wednesday there was no evidence Mitchell has learned from his mistakes.

“We are deeply troubled that Mitchell is continuing to spread messages of hate against the Jewish people,” he said in a statement. “The Montreal Alouettes and the Canadian Football League did the right thing in 2015 by denouncing Mitchell’s hateful tweets and levying a fine against him for his troubling behaviour.

“Clearly, Mitchell has not learned from his past mistakes. We have engaged with the CFL and the Saskatchewan Roughriders and they have assured us they are investigating.”

The CIJA included screenshots of several recent retweets from Mitchell it deemed troubling. Mitchell, 31, said he was aware of the reputation he brings to Saskatchewan.

“I’ve been around pretty much all the good and the bad at the maximum extremes,” he said. “What’s going on here is that I got the opportunity to go ahead and show everybody who I am. If you don’t know me, all you’ve got to do is go and look me up and then all of a sudden you’ll find out who I am.

“But I’m just myself. I’m comfortable being myself. I’m an outspoken guy, but every team I’ve always been around, I’ve loved my teammates to death.”

The six-foot-five, 316-pound Mitchell, a 2011 CFL all-star with B.C., also landed in hot water with the CFL in 2012 when he was fined for using derogatory terms against people of Chinese descent on Twitter.