While Brandon Joiner is working hard to make the conversion from a small-school defensive end to an NFL linebacker, the first-year player is hoping to make the best out of his second opportunity. As we pointed out from yesterday (and every posting since last year): Sentenced to three years in prison last year for aggravated robbery and felony drug possession from 2007, Joiner was released in January and the Cincinnati Bengals, who had signed him as college free agent following the 2012 NFL draft, placed him on the offseason roster.
It's important to Joiner that, along with making a name for himself on the sport's biggest stage, he successfully rewards Cincinnati for the investment (and risk publicly) that they made in him.
"I thank God every opportunity I get to come out here and play for the Bengals and the organization, it's a great day," said Joiner (via FoxSportsOhio.com). "I'm really grateful for them. I just want to show them that they did the right thing. I feel like I'm in debt, that I owe them everything I have and I want to give them everything I have for this team."
Due to his time in prison last year, Kevin Goheen writes that Joiner is understanding of his opportunity today.
"I manned up to it, I took my licks, but I look at life differently, too. I understand how important this is," said Joiner. "I understand that football is an exceptional thing and it's not just given. Everybody can't do this. It's a great opportunity. Every time I walk into this locker room I still have that awe factor, that man I'm so happy to be here and I pray I never lose that."
Joiner's path to the 53-man roster will be difficult, packed with talented players on a roster squeezed for limited opportunity. Even if he's unsuccessful making the roster, Joiner is a prime practice squad candidate.