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Roughriders release controversial Khalif Mitchell, say he’s not in shape

The Saskatchewan Roughriders released Khalif Mitchell on Monday.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders released Khalif Mitchell on Monday. File / Global News

The Saskatchewan Roughriders released Khalif Mitchell on Monday, saying it would be difficult for the controversial defensive lineman to get into playing shape this season.

Mitchell hasn’t played since being released by the Montreal Alouettes in June 2015, a month after he was fined over anti-Semitic Twitter posts, which included a link to a Holocaust denial video.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan Roughriders sign controversial defensive lineman Khalif Mitchell

The struggling Riders signed Mitchell to their practice roster last month, a move that drew criticism from Canadian Jewish organizations.

Roughriders general manager and head coach Chris Jones said the two parties agreed to part ways.

“After sitting out for over a year we both agreed it would be difficult for Khalif to get physically ready to play in a professional football game at this point in the season,” Jones said in a release.

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After being fined in 2015, Mitchell apologized in a joint statement by the CFL Players’ Association and B’nai Brith Canada, saying it was “a learning moment for me.” He agreed to work with B’nai Brith, a Jewish human rights organization, to “educate myself about this and other human rights matters.”

But after the Roughriders announced they were adding him to their practice roster on Aug. 31, Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said there was no evidence Mitchell has learned from his mistakes.

The CIJA included screenshots of several recent retweets from Mitchell it deemed troubling.

CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said a day after the signing that the league would be monitoring Mitchell’s social media posts.

Jones also said he had spoken at length with Jewish community leaders and wouldn’t tolerate any inappropriate behaviour.

Mitchell, 31, claims his tweets were misunderstood and that he was researching his “Hebrew Semitic backgrounds.”

The six-foot-five, 316-pound Mitchell, a 2011 all-star with B.C., also landed in hot water with the CFL in 2012 when he was fined for using derogatory terms against people of Chinese descent on Twitter.

The Roughriders are a dismal 1-10 this season.

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