VANCOUVER - Something happens to Khalif Mitchell whenever he comes up against the Edmonton Eskimos.
The B.C. Lions defensive tackle didn’t do himself any favours in the court of public opinion the first time the two teams met, getting suspended for two games for viciously hyper-extending the elbow of Eskimos left guard Simeon Rottier on July 20.
Then there was the throat-slashing Mitchell was fined for in Edmonton on Sept. 22.
This week, he was fined by the CFL and benched by his team in Friday’s game at BC Place Stadium after posting a racial slur on his Twitter account.
While Mitchell graciously asked his coaches to be excused from the Lions practice facility in Surrey, B.C., just before a group of Edmonton media showed up Thursday morning, general manager Wally Buono downplayed any correlation between the Eskimos and his hulking, six-foot-five, 315-pound D-lineman.
“I’m not even going to say what I’m thinking about it, because it might be …,” Buono told a scrum of reporters, before cutting himself off. “That’s just a coincidence. This is obviously an embarrassing moment for all of us and I know it is for Khalif. We had a very lengthy conversation (Thursday) morning.”
The topic, no doubt, centred around the term ‘c***k’, which Mitchell first defended himself for tweeting, before apologizing and, eventually, saying he didn’t realize was derogatory.
“For him, this is not who he wants people to think he is. And I don’t believe that it is,” Buono said. “You can really sense that embarrassment and a contrite spirit.
“It came out. It wasn’t meant in any way to be that way but it is, and now he understands that he has to make amends for it.”
Beginning with being crossed off the lineup this week, while the extent of the punishment is unknown.
But the Lions are treating it as an embarrassment, with club president and CEO Dennis Skulsky sending out a late-night press release expressing their displeasure with Mitchell’s decision process.
“When you look at any kind of disciplinary action, you have to always try to measure the effect it has on your team and measure the effect it has on the locker-room,” Buono said. “And then measure the effect that it has publicly, too. Decisions aren’t made lightly and if they are, then you don’t value the individuals that you have.
“Things have been building up and this is more, I think, bad judgement than it is conduct. I’m hoping that these things help him and I hope that we can do a good job of educating him and hopefully all our players.”
The education process stems from differences in regional dialect, Buono said.
“Sometimes people don’t see the harm, but yet they don’t know the hurt that other people have gone through,” he said. “There had to be consequences for the action.”
Mitchell, who was scheduled back this week after missing the past three games with a knee injury, has been replaced by six-foot-five, 255-pound import Brandon Jordan.