Joe Mixon's Past Poses NFL Franchises with a Uniquely Troubling Dilemma

Jason ColeNFL AnalystMarch 30, 2017

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 01:  Joe Mixon #25 of the Oklahoma Sooners in the first half at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

PHOENIX — If the video of Joe Mixon wasn’t bad enough, the question around the NFL these days is almost equally daunting.

What if there’s more?

Mixon, the star running back from the University of Oklahoma, is considered by many NFL people to be the best running back available in the draft. But a video of him punching a woman in July 2014 all but assures that he will not be drafted in the first round, and at least four teams have already taken him completely off their board.

Of nine NFL owners and/or executives who were surveyed this week at the league’s annual spring meeting, none of them would allow their team to take Mixon in the first round. Five said they would consider it depending on when he was still around.

And while all of them expect him to be taken, two owners had an ominous viewpoint on this situation.

Alonzo Adams/Associated Press

If you have been through the process of dealing with a player accused of the assault of a woman, you’ll never do it again.

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That’s because the criticism and questioning of your organization in situations like this are constant. And it's worse for the player and team when there is video of the incident.

And while some people give consideration to the fact that Mixon was only 18 at the time, there is a question of what else lurks in his past. Last season, per Dallas Franklin of KFor.com, Mixon was suspended for tearing up a parking ticket and tossing it in the face of a female police officer.

There are also questions about two incidents in high school, one on video and one alleged. The first was a fight in Nov. 1, 2013, game against rival Antioch (CA) High in which Mixon was kicked out of the game and suspended for the following game. The incident is very brief and hardly atypical of high school football.

Still, it’s an emotional reaction as the video shows at approximately the 1:20 mark.

The second is an incident in which Mixon was accused of hitting a girl at Freedom High. In reaction to the news about Mixon hitting Molitor, a man named Anthony Hernandez from Oakley, California, made the following post on social media:

I know for a fact he threw my daughter to the ground and hit her. I went to the school and...they hid him in the office. He got no punishment. The police even came. I was escorted off the campus as if I did something wrong. These are simply the facts, he's a woman beater.

Mixon has denied Hernandez’s accusation, per a report from Brady Vardeman of SportsDay.DallasNews.com.

The NFL is aware of the post by Hernandez, and the league is doing its diligence. Based on how long the league has taken to investigate Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott over accusations of domestic violence from last offseason, expect the league to be even more thorough with Mixon.

Molitor has filed a civil suit against Mixon, and it stands to reason that Hernandez and his daughter would be witnesses in that case and could testify. Of course, that’s likely part of a legal dance that seems headed toward some kind of settlement before it goes to a scheduled trial in the fall in Oklahoma City. In fact, any team drafting Mixon would be wise to demand he settle the case before he ever plays.

The situation also puts Molitor and her attorneys in the odd position of potentially wanting Mixon to get drafted as high as possible. It’s pretty simple: The higher he gets drafted, the better the contract he gets. The better the contract he gets, the higher the settlement Molitor could try to get.

Before that bit of legal wrangling can play out, Mixon has to convince some team he is worth the risk. That process started in December by airing the video so that people could be somewhat desensitized to it by April.

Mixon at Oklahoma's pro day
Mixon at Oklahoma's pro dayAlonzo Adams/Associated Press

This month, Mixon took the next step with an impressive workout at Oklahoma’s pro day on March 8. The 20-year-old Mixon, who is listed at 6'1" and 226 pounds, clocked a 4.50 in the 40-yard dash, had 21 reps on the bench and did well enough to justify the first-round grade most have given him on the physical side of the game.

Last year, Mixon set the Oklahoma single-season all-purpose yardage record (2,331 in rushing, receiving and kick returns).

As purely a running back, Mixon might be the best in the draft. On 300 carries over his two seasons, he had 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns. As a receiver, he had 65 catches for 894 yards—averaging a ridiculous 13.8 yards a catch—and nine scores. He’s a fantasy football dream.

But there is the real-life nightmare of having to deal with the publicity and the potential that Mixon does something heinous again. Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman spent a lot of time at Oklahoma’s pro day watching Mixon and could use a replacement for Adrian Peterson.

However, taking Mixon seems like a long shot given what the Vikings dealt with in 2014 when Peterson was suspended for taking a switch to one of his children. The idea of Zimmer and Spielman walking into owner Zygi Wilf’s office to ask if it would be OK seems farfetched.

To Mixon’s credit, he has tried to take on most of this head on. In addition to airing the video, Mixon has discussed the incident at length.

Still, the fact is that some team taking him will have to deal with the PR backlash while wondering about a very serious question.

Is there more?