Before last week’s NFL draft, concern abounded over if and who would draft Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon. The former Sooner drew national disdain for hitting a woman in a bar almost three years ago. The story was done, over, almost forgotten. Then came the video 6 months ago. That began the debate.
Mixon is trying to show the football world he is reformed. He is no longer the young 19 year old kid that made the mistake. He is now 20. A second round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals and working to atone for the hideous mistake.
One thing the Bengals need is a running game. Quarterback Andy Dalton is not the type that can stand in the pocket and throw every down. Cincinnati’s offense has to be diversified and for that to happen, they need a running game. Mixon provides that. His last year at Oklahoma, Mixon ran for 1,274 yards in 12 games for Oklahoma and averaged 6.8 yards per carry. Translate those numbers into the NFL and the Bengals have themselves a rushing attack.
Mixon comes to Cincy looking for a fresh start, something that isn’t going to happen. And he knows it. “I’m sure everyone’s made mistakes. It’s what you do after and what you learn from it. It’s not like it’s been a string of things after that incident. It was a one-time thing. I made a bad decision, I made a bad mistake.”
Its the type of mistake that almost cost him his NFL career. Commissioner Roger Goodell and the rest of the league are taking a stern look at every domestic violence dispute and arrest. They want to eliminate the bad publicity that comes with it, especially following the black eye of the Ray Rice and Greg Hardy situations.
Mixon added, “If I could take it back, I would. I can’t. So I have to keep moving forward, doing the right things. I can’t keep worrying about something that happened three years ago.”
That is what the league wants to hear. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops agreed. Instead of doing the easy thing, which was kick Mixon off the team and out of Norman, the coach elected to use it as a teaching moment. And Mixon used it to his advantage.
Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said. “Whether it’s coaches or teammates, just look at the way people talked about him the next three years, the positive impact he made on both this program and people’s lives here, and his overall spirit.
Still, some question why should Mixon have a second chance? They say he should never be allowed to play football again. The use the same old argument, football is a privilege and not a right. This time they are right, but for the wrong reasons.
Mixon had the game taken away from him. Stoops made sure of that. Plus Stoops gave the running back plenty to do in order to prove his apologetic attitude. Before Stoops took action, Mixon entered a plea, acknowledging there was likely enough evidence to convict him of misdemeanor assault while still maintaining his innocence. He did not serve jail time and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and undergo counseling.
Mixon completed his sentence. He paid for his transgression and is trying to move forward. What makes Mixon any different than someone else? He was a youngster, who made a mistake. He was 18. Use the old axiom, what did we do at 18 that we wish we could change? Alot.
But we weren’t in the public eye. We were shielded by the lack of a social media and the opportunity to grow up outside the limelight. Mixon’s mistake was played out on video. And it was gruesome. Certainly Mixon caused his problem, but he is also working to to prove he has moved on. That he is changed.
So Mixon is already in his second chance. And it appears he is making the most of it. But if he has a relapse, all the work he has done will go away quickly.
Dave Mitchell co-hosts with Mark Donahue the UST talk show “Ohio Baseball Weekly,” highlighting the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. The Show is at 9pm every Monday evening. He also provides play by play of sports. If you have a comment on this or any other article,email Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @ohbbcohost or @ultsportstalk.