Coming off of an incredible Rose Bowl which saw USC narrowly defeat Penn State, I settled in to watch what I thought was going to be an excellent Sugar Bowl between Auburn and Oklahoma. Due to the length of the the Rose Bowl the audience joined the Sugar Bowl in progress. The audience was greeted by ESPN commentator Brent Musburger who was quick to point out that Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon did not start the game. Who is Joe Mixon? Why should you care?
Mixon is a 20 year old running back from Oakley, California. His career got off to a rocky start at Oklahoma in 2014. Shortly after signing with Oklahoma, Mixon was involved in an altercation with a woman inside of a Norman, OK restaurant. The woman, Amelia Molitor was the recipient of a violent hook from Mixon that left her with multiple injuries. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel she suffered a broken jaw and cheekbone.
Conflicting reports surfaced on exactly how the entire incident transpired. In a statement to the police, Molitor said that she shoved Mixon after he harassed one of her friends with a homophobic slur. Mixon defended himself by saying that he heard one of her friends make a racist comment towards him. Regardless, what happened next should never occur.
Clearly this is a cowardly act by Mixon that could have been avoided. There are more adult ways to approach conflict resolution. This video was made public a few weeks before Oklahoma was scheduled to make an appearance at the Sugar Bowl. As one could imagine there was a ton of public outcry. Reporter Morgan Moriarty described the video in a simple way. "It's Ray Rice all over again" said Moriarty. She recalled that when the Rice incident first came about he was only suspended two games by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The whole Ray Rice incident was quite alarming when the public first saw footage and shed a light on domestic violence. While this isn't domestic violence, it's violence and equally as troubling.
As a result of this incident, Mixon was suspended for the whole 2014 season and was allowed to rejoin the team in 2015. As part of a plea deal, Mixon was allowed to serve a deferred sentence. This included 100 hours of community service and cognitive behavior counseling. This is a joke, Joe Mixon is a grown man striking someone that he outweighs considerably. The even more unsettling part is the defense that Mixon recieved from Brent Musburger.
Musburger made it clear that Mixon didn't start the game and almost seemed proud of the fact. Musburger then went on to say that Mixon was "fine" and went on to say "Folks, he is just one of the best, and lets hope, given a second chance by Bob Stoops and Oklahoma, let's hope that this young man makes the most of his chance and goes on to have a career in the National Football League." I immediately asked "What about Amelia Molitor?" Immediate outrage occurred on twitter as many people took to social media to talk about Musburger's comments.
This isn't the first time that Musburger was in hot water for comments he made during the game. A couple of years ago, he made some rather uncomfortable comments about former Alabama Quarterback AJ McCarron's then girlfriend Katherine Webb. Saying "Why do all the QBs get all the pretty girls." ESPN quickly addressed the outrage about Mixon on social media and made Musburger apologize on-air. The apology was half-hearted and insincere.
What happened with Mixon is part of a larger issue. We tend to forgive athletes because of their actions on the field. As a society we need to hold these athletes accountable because they are not above the law. It has also been reported that Mixon recently was ticketed by the OU Police Department and that he tore up a parking ticket. What type of example does Mixon set for young fans? Mixon declared for the draft on Thursday. One must wonder if Mixon's character flaw will effect his draft stock.