The Bengals technically don’t have male cheerleaders, but running back Joe Mixon is as close as it gets.
Watching from the sidelines as his teammates put up 37 points against the Falcons, the 22-year old playmaker did everything in his power to exert the same energy and emotion that the offense feeds off of when he’s playing. But Mixon knows that keeping his emotions in check is imperative with how much he gives off.
“You have to learn how to channel it in different areas,” Mixon told reporters before practice this week. “At the same time with the fire I try to play with bring them guys coming along, especially the linemen, they feed off of it a lot. It takes it a long way. They play to a different level. They are firing off the ball. Definitely do a great job up front with the run game and trying to keep Andy free and off the ground.”
The Bengals are a young team, and Mixon is one of the youngest players, even for not being a rookie. The buoyancy Mixon provides to the rest of the team, playing or not, has immense value. And head coach Marvin Lewis recognizes it, too.
“Joe has had that exuberance ever since he has been here,” Lewis said. “He had that this spring at Oklahoma when Orlando Brown, Baker Mayfield, and Mark Andrews were all working out (at the pro day). He had the towel and the water bottle. That was what he was doing and that’s Joe. I encourage him to never lose that quality. If you want to ascend to the type of player you can be in the NFL you want to keep that exuberance and camaraderie with your teammates. Its big, winning is important to him.”
The towel and water bottle treatment continued this past Sunday as well.
“They go to work, got to do what they do. I’m there with whatever they need,” Mixon said. “Say for instance like this past weekend, Mark (Walton) came on the sideline, I’m like, let’s get some water for him. Or Tyler Boyd needed some water, I’m right there to go get it for them. I’ll always be my teammates’ biggest fans. Try to cheer them on as much as possible. It definitely goes a long way and shows I’m going to do whatever I can to continue to be that part. Whether on or off the field.”
It would be preferable that Mixon does all of this while playing and being on the field. Most fans saw how Mixon reacted to A.J. Green’s game-winning touchdown, and while some (like me) had reservations about him re-injuring himself by doing so, it wasn’t on Mixon’s mind.
“I wasn’t worried about none of that. A.J. just scored a touchdown to win the game. I went over there excited,” Mixon said. “We always play off our emotion. It’s how you control your emotion.”
There was clearly more to admire about Mixon besides rushing down the sideline to celebrate with his teammate. He’s the ultimate team-player and won’t let an injury prohibit him from giving his teammates a boost, whatever that may be. And that’s not something that just goes away.
Hopefully we see that energy back on the field this week in the form of Mixon playing.