For a player who was suspended and fined last season for an offensive tweet, let it be a tweet that signalled Khalif Mitchell’s departure from the B.C. Lions.
In the abbreviated words of Lions running back Andrew Harris: “Good riddance!!!!”
While Harris didn’t mention Mitchell by name, he didn’t have to.
Harris’s assessment came out shortly after the Lions announced Tuesday they had traded the forever-controversial Mitchell to the Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts for another import defensive lineman (Adrian Awasom) and an unnamed player on the Argos’ negotiation list.
While enormous (6 foot 5, 315 pounds) and enormously talented, Mitchell also proved himself to be a sizeable distraction, often more trouble than the Lions cared for.
The import defensive lineman was suspended for two games by the CFL for hyperextending the elbow of a rival offensive lineman after the referee’s whistle had blown.
He was reprimanded again by the league for a throat-slashing gesture made toward the Edmonton Eskimos bench.
Then, he tweeted on last fall’s U.S. presidential election, used an offensive word and was suspended and fined again, this time for violating the league’s social media policy.
In the end, even as talented as he is, the Lions decided it was time for Mitchell to move on.
His fate was sealed during the 2013 February free-agency period, when B.C. signed former Eskimos defensive lineman Julius Williams.
He’ll line up alongside Eric Taylor, Keron Williams and Jabar Westerman in front of linebackers Anton McKenzie, Solomon Elimimian and Adam Bighill.
The Lions won’t miss Mitchell on the field and, by the sounds of it, are only too happy to be rid of his antics.
The Argonauts, meanwhile, are thrilled to add a physical presence to a defensive line that lost Ricky Foley (to the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ free-agent money) along with Ron Flemons and Armond Armstead (both of whom were released) and Adriano Belli (retired).
“Khalif has shown the ability to be a dominant interior defensive lineman in the CFL,” said Argos general manager Jim Barker, who acquired Canadian defensive lineman Jermaine Reid in a February trade with Edmonton.
“[Mitchell] has been a part of a Grey Cup championship team and understands the level of commitment needed to again be a champion.”
Mitchell was at his most reliable best in 2011, when he was both a West Division and CFL all-star.
He had six sacks and helped the Lions win the Grey Cup at B.C. Place Stadium, topping the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 34-23.
Awasom played in 17 games over three seasons with the New York Giants in the NFL.
He was with Las Vegas of the United Football League, before signing with Toronto last December.