2017 NFL Draft: The Uncomfortable Joe Mixon Saga
Let’s get uncomfortable. Picture this: A 6’1 225 pound African American man punches a blonde Caucasian woman in the face, leaving it fractured. Months later the same woman walks around campus with her jaw wired shut while he is charged with a misdemeanor crime that results in community service requirements and a year of probation. Fast forward 2 and half years, she is trying to get her life back to a normal status, free of media calling and requesting interviews and free of the social media bashing of her character; as for him? He is in the process of becoming a professional football player in the NFL, trying to make millions for his talent n the field. So what happens next for both of them years removed from the incident? Lets explore.
I think it is safe to say that Joe Mixon is the most controversial player in the 2017 NFL draft. This is Laremy Tunsil’s pre draft fiasco all over again times a thousand. This is Ray Rice if that incident had happened before he was drafted. Let’s be honest though, the only reason that this is so controversial is because Mixon is talented, really talented. He averaged 6.8 yards a carry at Oklahoma, and clocked a 4.5 at his pro day while throwing up 21 reps on the bench; this young man who has speed, power, athleticism, and durability, which are all traits of successful NFL tailbacks. As NFL senior analyst Mel Kiper said, “he’s a top-10 pick without an issue." The issue happened two years ago but the video release in December makes it feel like it just happened.
The Dallas Cowboys made me “America’s Team” but the New England Patriots are the gold standard of the league in all aspects. Not only have the Patriots dominated the NFL in the last decade but also they seem to outsmart every other team in how they use player personnel. The have had a history of taking players with somewhat troubled past issues and seen it work out for the good. “While I believe in second chances and giving players an opportunity for redemption, I also believe that playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right. For me, personally, I believe that privilege is lost for men who have a history of abusing women” is a direct quote from Robert Kraft; who is not only class personified but also the owner of the New England Patriots speaking on the chances of Joe Mixon ever wearing one of his jerseys. That statement is equivalent to the most popular guy in your high school saying, “ I would never date that girl, but y’all go head”. It’s an understandable but also very strong statement from one of the major faces of the NFL.
What about the young lady, what is her life like now? Amelia Molitor is her name and as she describes herself “is not a quitter”. Not only will she be an official graduate from the University of Oklahoma but this is a woman who returned to resume classes 3 weeks after the incident with her jaws wired shut. She endured a lot of criticism and people blaming her of all people for what happened, and years later in an Interview with Berry Tramel she said she “refuses to let one punch define her life”. She is ready to move on with her life but to what extent should the NFL do the same with their current evaluation of a past Joe Mixon situation? That is the question.
In talking to friends and family about this my personal opinion is rather conflicting. On one hand I believe everyone deserves second chances. I believe a mistake that happens when you’re 18 should not follow you for the rest of your life. On the other hand, lets be honest this isn't an ordinary mistake. This is something that my own father would’ve most likely cut off all contact with me for doing for a while. This is something that I believe deserved some stint of jail time. This is an action that was swept under the mat and let off easy for a star football player, but he was 18. Somebody will draft him, some team will give him a uniform to wear on Sundays and he will have an opportunity to make millions and live out his dream.
How long will NFL analyst make comments about his infamous video every time he comes into a game? How long will there be women rights activists in the stands of his games with protest signs? How long will the media question his future coach, teammates, and his self about the incident that is almost three years old? I’m not sure the answer to any of those questions, but I am sure that they will all play a factor in at least the early years of his career. We will have to sit back and watch like everyone else.