Buccaneers: Please Stay Away from Joe Mixon in the 2017 NFL Draft

Jan 2, 2017; New Orleans , LA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon (25) carries the ball against Auburn Tigers linebacker Darrell Williams (49) in the second quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 2, 2017; New Orleans , LA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon (25) carries the ball against Auburn Tigers linebacker Darrell Williams (49) in the second quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /

Joe Mixon may get a second chance, but it should not be with the Buccaneers. They need to stay away.

The Buccaneers recently went front and center of the Joe Mixon debate. As we know by now, Mixon has been to Tampa for a pre-draft visit. The majority of the reaction to it was positive, with a smattering of negative. Now, this by no means guarantees that the Bucs are going to draft the troubled player from Oklahoma. It does mean that he is on their radar, so the topic has become a popular one.

It was a major topic with our fantastic podcast, Walking the Plank, hosted by James Yarcho and David Harrison. Take a listen to hear our hosts and their passionate views on the process for vetting Mixon, and how they would feel about bringing him in. With that, I wanted to jump into the fray and give my feelings on the matter.

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My feelings are simple. Don’t do it. David mentioned during the podcast that the reward is not worth the PR risk because they don’t “need” Mixon. I agree and will take it even further.

Joe Mixon should be off the radar for the Bucs. They can add to their running back stable with so many other players in this class. He is not worth the baggage that he brings with him and it takes too long for it to go away.

Mind you, this has nothing to do with on-field talent. On the field, Mixon is as good as anybody in this draft. Nobody can look at these numbers and think otherwise (per Sports Reference):

*2015OklahomaBig 12FRRB131137536.772835612.7414111097.911
2016OklahomaBig 12SORB1218712746.8103753814.5522418128.115

Talent is not the issue. Mixon checks all of the boxes there. But playing professional sports is so much more than just talent. It’s about showing character off the field, and Mixon has not proven that, as an adult, he can handle that part of the job.

First of all, who thought releasing the video was a good idea? According to the Associated Press, (reported in Newsmax), this was his lawyers’ idea to release it this past December. Mixon went on to say he wanted to address it earlier than that! Why? If his lawyers pushed it, they should have their licenses looked at, and if it was Mixon’s idea, he isn’t very bright. Why would you want to deliberately taint the public perception of yourself? Even if we had found out about the incident, being able to see it on video makes it worse.

Maybe he doesn’t like making top dollar as a high draft pick. Maybe he’s allergic. Maybe he just thinks he’ll make his money because he’s “Joe Mixon”. Or he’s just not too bright. So I have no sympathy for the money he will lose because of his plummeting draft stock. He brought it on himself by committing the act, and made it worse by inviting the public to watch it. Oh, he’ll make a few lesion

Yes, Joe Mixon apologized. Don’t forget the spin involved there, however. He would have no prayer of getting drafted at all if, once this went public, he didn’t apologize. Mixon had no choice. And let’s look at some of the words that were spoken in that “apology” (per NonDoc):

"On the night of July 24, 2014, I had just turned 18 years old. I was away from home for the first time and far from comfortable in my new surroundings, which were different from my hometown. That night, I was out with members of the football team, trying to get to know my new teammates and friends. I was not drinking; I have never had a drink in my life. At the end of the night, a group of apparently drunk people started harassing us. Some of my teammates were wise enough to leave. I did not, and I am sorry."

For his one “sorry”, there are plenty more excuses. What did he essentially tell us here? That he wasn’t drunk, had just turned 18, and some drunk people got him mad. “I was mad” represents a constant decision to do what he did, not a childhood error. THAT’S a problem.

Here is his “apology”:

"I apologize to Amelia Molitor and the friends who were with her that night. I apologize to my teammates, coaches, the University of Oklahoma, and its fans. I apologize to my family and friends. I realize I let a lot of people down. I apologize to all those I disappointed or hurt."

Maybe I am a harsher judge of character than some, but I don’t find that compelling. Those are the words of a man saying what he HAS to say in order to still potentially earn a living in the NFL.

Mixon went on the Rich Eisen Show to discuss his situation (per Sports Day). Eisen asked him how he was different. Here is how he responded:

"“Oh man, I’m a changed person, really. I’ve been through a lot of situations after that fact and I learned a lot about myself and I learned a lot about the character of me and I just grew up from the situation and moved past it and just trying to move forward in a positive manner.”"

What does any of that really mean? Did Mixon tell us anything tangible here? No. He used a lot of buzz words like “changed person” and “grew up”. He “moved past it” but we really don’t know how. Rich Eisen asked him a pretty direct question. I understand that athletes are experts at dodging questions, but Mixon could have taken the topic straight on. He could have told us why he is better. He didn’t, so the skepticism must continue.

Here is one more response, to the question on what he has specifically done to improve himself:

"“I’ve been doing mandatory counseling for myself. It’s up to me to do that. I’ve been hanging around with (district attorneys) and judges. I’m doing community service with them. They’ve been taking me in and hanging out with them and we’ve been doing good deeds around the community. And I’ve been around AAU kids, football kids and trying to involve myself in children’s hospitals. And I’ve been trying to do whatever I can to become a better person and better person around the community.”"

So, he has done mandatory counseling. “Mandatory” does not indicate an interest in doing it, it indicates someone who wants to stay out of prison. He doesn’t indicate anything he is doing voluntarily to show that he gets what he did wrong in this instance. To break down that quote, he basically told us that he has gone to court-sanctioned counseling and worked with some kids.

Big deal.

Look at Ray Rice. Where is the work at battered women’s shelters? Where are the speeches, talking about violence against women? Here was the perfect opportunity to tell Rich Eisen all of the ways he gets it, and have the world hear it. He didn’t do that.

Next: Why the Bucs Should be on Hard Knocks

Can he have a shot? Sure. Just not with the Bucs. Don’t do it, Jason Licht. It’s not worth the risk. Let me know what you think, on either side of the debate. Comment here and find me on Twitter, my handle is above.