Despite acquittal, Riders should steer clear of Justin Cox

Pretend you’re Craig Reynolds, president and CEO of the community-owned Saskatchewan Roughriders.

It’s likely going to be your decision whether troubled defensive back Justin Cox should re-join your CFL team. The guy in charge of football operations, Chris Jones, is almost certainly arguing that Cox is a fantastic football player who can help the team win and, honest, even though Cox has been charged three times with domestic violence, he’s really a good kid who won’t get in trouble again.

What do you do?

Don’t let him come back.

You understand that winning is important in pro sports, especially following a 5-13 season and moving into a new stadium where fans will be screaming for the team’s first postseason appearance since 2014. But there’s nothing that says a team can’t win with character and pride.

Since arriving in 2016, Jones has jettisoned most of the team’s noteworthy veterans, players who were involved front-and-centre in the community and never got into trouble: John Chick, Darian Durant, Weston Dressler and Chris Getzlaf. It makes you worry about Spencer Moore’s fate because he has a community-minded presence.

Jones pondered recruiting Greg Hardy, a former NFLer whose domestic violence charges are disturbing, and momentarily had racist Khalif Mitchell in town. His big-name quarterback signing this offseason was Vince Young, fresh off DUI charges. There are several others on the roster with criminal records, but Jones likes to say that if the CFL wasn’t open to signing players with troubled pasts, there wouldn’t be many players available.

He’s right; everyone deserves a second chance. But who deserves four chances?

Outgoing CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge cited the league’s anti-violence campaign and issued an edict following Cox’s arrest in April, right after the Riders released the DB, that prevented teams from signing Cox. With Cox being found not guilty in a Regina courtroom on Monday, that edict will probably be lifted.

Cox told Canadian Press after the trial that he hoped to rejoin the Roughriders, he had spoken to Jones about returning and that he was told — and intends to — contact you, the president/CEO.

Well, men like Justin Cox don’t accidentally get themselves charged three times with domestic violence.

Is the team’s on-field success more important than it’s image? Really, there are ways to be good at both.

While some deranged fans are saying Cox is innocent, so he should be allowed to resume his career, the more sensible fans believe there’s no sense in taking another chance on somebody with three strikes against him. There are other players available, with more talent and less baggage.

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