You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Joiner relishing his second chance

The majority of the players taking part in Cincinnati Bengals rookie minicamp Friday were taking their first steps in the NFL. But for linebacker Brandon Joiner, it was the second chance he always hoped he would get.

“It felt amazing,” Joiner said after the morning practice. “It was a blessing really, just to get a chance to play football again and be out there with the rest of these amazing athletes and have the Bengals uniform on.”

The last uniform Joiner wore featured a lot more numbers and a lot less prestige. It was all white and exactly the same as the ones worn by every other every prisoner in the Hutchins State Jail.

The 24-year-old Joiner spent eight months there from May 2012 to January 2013 after being convicted of aggravated burglary and assault when he was an 18-year-old freshman at Texas A&M.

“It was mentally, physically and spiritually frustrating,” Joiner said. “Every day you wish you were out. And now you’ve got an opportunity to be out, so you try to use that as a log for the fire and keep going.”

The 2007 crime, in which he and a teammate broke into an apartment, tied up the residents and stole cash, drugs and cell phones, led to Joiner’s release at Texas A&M.

The other man in the robbery, Yemi Babalola, was sentenced to five years in prison, and Joiner knew a similar fate awaited him. But after enrolling at Navarro College and later Arkansas State, he maintained a 3.0 grade-point average and eventually made a unique plea deal in 2010 that resulted in 10 years of probation and allowed him to delay serving time until after he graduated.

“Yes, he did what he did, but I’m really proud of Brandon,” said his mother, Cynthia Joiner-Moore. “Sometimes people have to go through some things, and I know he’ll be a testimony for someone else’s life because of it. Going through something is one thing, but when you don’t run from it, that is the issue.”

Joiner didn’t run from his responsibility, and the Bengals didn’t run from Joiner, who signed as an undrafted college free agent last May, just weeks before reporting for prison.

“We brought him in here because we thought he was talented and had a chance to do something for us,” Bengals linebackers coach Paul Guenther said. “With the situation he’s been through, he’s matured quite a bit. What happened was a long time ago. I told him it’s like starting all over again. You’re starting from ground zero and building from there.”

Joiner missed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s while in prison. He missed his sister Amanda’s deployment to Germany as a member of the Army. And he missed being a part of the Bengals, especially when he watched them play on television.

But the visits from his mom and a letter from the Bengals kept him going.

“When I got a letter from the team letting me know they kept their rights to me, that was a blessing that gave me a boost of confidence and hope,” he said.

“I told Brandon if he ever gets traded to another team or goes somewhere else, I don’t know how you’re going to feel with me wearing a Bengal pin on and sitting up there in somebody else’s uniform, but I’m a Bengal fan for life,” Joiner-Moore said.

It is far from a certainty that Joiner will make the team this season. The Bengals return two of their three starters at linebacker, and they recently signed five-time Pro Bowler James Harrison. They also added former first-round pick Aaron Maybin in the offseason.

But one thing Joiner can guarantee is that he is a new man with a new outlook.

“I look at life differently now,” he said. “When you walk by a flower, you don’t just see a flower, you smell it. I’ve grown as a man physically, spiritually and mentally. I feel battle-tested in a way. I am more than ready for this opportunity. I know what it feels like to be at your lowest low, and I respect it more now being at my highest high.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

H.S. Results for 4/22: St. Henry coach gets 500th win

John Dorner, in his 28th season as head baseball coach of St. Henry, won his 500th career game in a 12-2 contest over Fort Jennings on Saturday. Ryan Luttmer was 4-for-4 with three doubles and six RBI and Rylee Deitsch was 4-for-4 with a triple and three RBI to lead St. Henry at the plate. On the mound Daylon Lange scattered four hits over four innings...
Baseball: Loss to Tipp leaves Kenton Ridge eager for rematch
Baseball: Loss to Tipp leaves Kenton Ridge eager for rematch

Kenton Ridge’s chances of a No. 1 seed in the Division II sectional tournament draw are likely gone due to a 9-0 loss to Tippecanoe on Saturday at Tom Randall Field. That didn’t upset Kenton Ridge coach Aaron Shaffer, though. Instead, Shaffer is confident his team will learn from Saturday’s mistakes and be ready for a rematch against...
New Southeastern football coach Payton Printz: ‘I can’t wait’
New Southeastern football coach Payton Printz: ‘I can’t wait’

A familiar name has returned to Ohio Heritage Conference football. But instead of continuing a successful run at Triad, Payton Printz will be hoping to do the same at Southeastern High School. Printz recently was approved by the Southeastern Local School District to be its football coach. He succeeds Greg Bonifay, who resigned earlier this spring to...
Family leaves heartwarming note after sitting behind NFL receiver on flight
Family leaves heartwarming note after sitting behind NFL receiver on flight

You never know who is watching or how you can influence them. Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu learned that after getting a note from someone who sat behind him on a flight. Sanu tweeted a photo of the note saying, "This definitely put a smile on my face." The note reads: "Hi! You don't know us, but we wanted to thank you....
Powell looking to “move forward” after being renewed as Dunbar coach
Powell looking to “move forward” after being renewed as Dunbar coach

Darran Powell has been renewed as the Dunbar High School football coach. His status as coach had been under scrutiny since a series of events last season ultimately led to one of the harshest penalties in Ohio High School Athletic Association history. Powell, a Dunbar graduate, told his returning players on Thursday his coaching contract for the upcoming...
More Stories