Joe Mixon Presents A Big Dilemma For The Buccaneers
By Bailey Adams
The Buccaneers hosted former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon for a pre-draft visit earlier this week. Yes, he’s an outstanding talent. And yes, there are plenty of mixed feelings to have about it.
With the draft coming up later this month, the Buccaneers still have question marks at the running back position. There is absolutely no denying the kind of prospect that former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon is. But there is also no denying how big of a risk it would be to draft him. I’ll be completely honest: I have no idea how to feel about this. I don’t think I’m alone on that.
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Solely based on talent, Mixon is the best running back prospect in the draft. He has all the tools that a running back could ask for. The explosiveness is definitely there, and he possesses an impressive balance of elusiveness, speed and power. He’ll be a three-down back that can make an immediate impact, especially for an offense such as Tampa Bay’s. But then, there are the character concerns that just can’t be ignored.
Mixon’s situation is an unpleasant one, to say the least. In 2014, he was involved in an altercation in which he punched a woman. The punch resulted in a broken jaw and cheekbone. That altercation, which was caught on tape, is the biggest blemish for Mixon. The surveillance video shows a verbal argument with the woman that escalated when she pushed and later hit him. His response, however, was inexcusable. Because of it, he is still in a very bad situation to this day.
Two years later, after receiving a parking citation, he threw a fit. He ripped the ticket up and threw it in the parking attendant’s face. Independent of his record, this wouldn’t be anything major. But since it came two years after the first incident, it revealed a severe pattern of flawed judgment that many teams aren’t willing to ignore.
Where the conflict lies, however, is with the fact that the NFL is quick to give out second chances. So that brings up the question of whether or not he deserves one. Regardless, at least one team will gamble on him. Which brings up another question: should it be the Bucs?
Second chances are tricky. Mixon’s act was dreadful. But has he paid the price? He was suspended for a year after the incident. Then, this past December, he finally issued a public apology. In the 26-minute apology, he said he wanted to speak out earlier but was told by his legal team not to. He said that he has since matured, admitting that “it’s never OK to hit a woman.”
Additionally, he said that when an opportunity presents itself, he wants to publicly speak against domestic violence. He acknowledged that if he could go back to that day, he absolutely would’ve walked or run away from the situation. Clearly, these were all the right things to say. What needs to be decided is whether or not he really meant them.
That’s where the only real solution to the moral dilemma comes in. General manager Jason Licht has a vetting process in place. That’s why Mixon came in for a visit this past week. Licht used the same process with Jameis Winston and Noah Spence. He needs to see who this young man really is and go from there. If Mixon is a Buccaneer this fall, that means he’s gotten the approval of Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter, which says a lot.
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Mixon truly is the most polarizing player in the draft. His talent is undeniable, but his past may be inexcusable. The solution, albeit one that is somewhat of a cop-out, is to place a high level of trust in Licht and his front office to make the right decision for this franchise. I’m just glad I’m not the one having to make the call.