Last night the Oklahoma Sooners broke away from the Auburn Tigers, scoring 35 points against what was considered a good defense to win the Sugar Bowl in what ultimately became a route. A big part of the Sooners offense came from Joe Mixon’s 91 rushing yards and 89 receiving yards, both team leading numbers, respectively.
Mixon has been in the news recently after video recently surfaced of a 2014 incident in which he punched a female student and knocked her out cold, effectively breaking her jaw and cheekbone. The video was released after a court order and essentially shed light on how gruesome and brutal the attack was. However, Mixon was already disciplined for the altercation with the team deciding to redshirt him, which meant that he was basically forced to sit out a year and watch. Additionally he was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and to undergo counseling.
In the future, Mixon figures to be an NFL prospect. He is too talented as a football player for every team to pass on. He is going back to school for at least another year and by the time he enters the NFL draft his incident will be another year removed from the public eye and a team might value his on field performance over his character concerns and select him.
During the broadcast for last nights Sugar Bowl, longtime announcer took the opportunity to wish Mixon the best going forward.
“We’ve talked to the coaches and they all swear the young man is doing fine. … He’s just one of the best, and let’s hope, given a second chance by Bob Stoops and Oklahoma, let’s hope this young man makes the most of his chance and goes on to have a career in the National Football League.”
“Let me make something perfectly clear: What he did with that young lady was brutal, uncalled for, he’s apologized, he was tearful. He got a second chance. He got a second chance from Bob Stoops. I happen to pull for people with second chances, okay? Let me make it absolutely clear that I hope he has a wonderful career and he teaches people with that brutal, violent video, okay?”
Those words above have since been met with sharp criticism, with people slamming Musburger for…actually I’m honestly not quite sure why. I guess the consensus is that Musburger missed the opportunity to dissect an important topic and instead opted for a lighter take on a serious issue, choosing to simply wish the running back well going forward without really examining and analyzing the horror that occurred back in 2014. Also, some of his wording can be questioned, “…he’s apologized, he was tearful…” can be thought of as saying because he cried and apologized he should be forgiven for punching a woman in the face?
I, however, think the criticism towards Musburger is unfair. Musburger was simply taking the opportunity to wish a young man, who severely messed up, well going forward. I don’t think Musburger was making light of the situation, he acknowledged it and offered his support and even said that he hopes the video can be used as a tool to prevent similar occurrences from happening again. Could Musburger have talked more in depth about a serious issue and have done more to reiterate how heinous of an act it was? I guess, but he was calling a football game, what was he supposed to do stop calling what was happening on the field and instead give a lecture on domestic violence?
The first widespread instance of domestic abuse that really gained national attention was when Ray Rice punched his then fiancee, Janay Palmer, in the elevator of an Atlantic City Resort. Since the video, Ray Rice hasn’t played another down in the league. On the other hand, in 2007 superstar quarterback Mike Vick was arrested and convicted of running a dogfighting operation and was sentenced to 23 months in prison. When Vick was released from prison he continued to be vilified, especially from animal rights activists and organizations such as PETA. Still, the Philadelphia Eagles decided that he paid his time and should be given another shot in the NFL. With that opportunity Vick was able to return to form, if not better, and extended his career and was able to secure another multi million dollar contract in the process. Vick has also stayed out of headlines for pretty much anything negative and has since almost been embraced by fans, depending on who you’re talking to.
My question for you is which of these instances would you rather see in the future? Obviously you don’t want anybody to punch their fiancee or fight and harm animals but wouldn’t you want to see a fellow human being earn a chance to redeem themselves rather than not? You might even make the argument that Ray Rice not getting a second chance has squandered the opportunity to bring more awareness to his respective situation, whereas Mike Vick, just by being a part of the league still, brought more attention to horrors of animal abuse. Like Vick and Rice, Mixon has served the punishment given to him.
My point here is that it’s a waste of energy to feel animosity towards an announcer who simply wished somebody the best going forward. I would feel remiss if I spent this whole article talking about an issue and not at least offering a solution. I think the focus going forward needs to be on the people and institutions who handle the punishments because slapping someone on the wrist essentially downplays the significance and perhaps enables other people, including the offender, to strike again. If Oklahoma brass knew about that video when they gave out their punishment then everyone involved needs to be held accountable and the ultimate way to do that would be to penalize those who botched it. How can they see a kid punch a girl in the face and not kick him off the team? Is it because they never thought the video would surface? Is it because they value bowl wins and on field success over setting a precedent? That is something that Brent Musburger perhaps could have examined. I strongly believe that if there was video footage of Mike Vick drowning a dog that he would never get a second chance again. Well, that was almost 10 years ago and things are so different now that we’re in generation where there’s always a camera or phone somewhere. It shouldn’t take video footage for people to understand what domestic abuse means.
I also wish Joe Mixon well going forward. Most people know it’s wrong to hit a woman or to hurt a dog but people come from all walks of life and have different experiences with their parents, families, etc. In some households, those things happen without someone batting an eye. The goal isn’t to excuse it, but rather bring to light that those patterns are unacceptable. Joe Mixon is a 20 year old college student athlete who made a terrible mistake. I hope he understands the impact of his actions and capitalizes on an opportunity to bring further awareness to an important issue. I also wish the best for any victims of this behavior going forward too. Perhaps they’re the ones who really need someone’s support at this time…