Joe Mixon is Not the Only Top Running Back Prospect with a Troubled Past

Oct 1, 2016; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon (25) runs as TCU Horned Frogs linebacker Travin Howard (32) defends during the first half at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2016; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon (25) runs as TCU Horned Frogs linebacker Travin Howard (32) defends during the first half at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

This is a controversial topic that I generally prefer not to write about. However, I just want to make one thing clear, which we’ll get to momentarily. There has been a lot of chatter about Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon. What is his place in the NFL Draft and which teams may be willing to bring him into the locker room?

If you are not familiar with Mixon’s circumstances by now, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault charges after hitting a woman in 2014, which broke four bones in her face. This heinous act has put a cloud over Mixon’s NFL future, and rightfully so. Whether it was in retaliation or not, his reaction to the situation is never OK in any circumstance.

The Lions have been linked to Mixon, after Bob Quinn, the team’s general manager, made some controversial comments about Mixon being excluded from the NFL Scouting Combine.

Now, I do not condone any of Mixon’s behavior. But NFL teams and the countless analysts out there need to look at similar situations in the same light. Why has there been no backlash about another top running back prospect, Dalvin Cook? When analysts write about or discuss Cook, rarely, if ever, is his troubled past being brought up. Why?

Just like Mixon, Cook was arrested for hitting a woman. He was charged with battery and suspended from the Florida State football team in 2015. While he was later found not guilty of the charges, it still makes you question his character.

Additionally, Cook was issued a citation for the mistreatment of animals. He left three pit bull puppies (all under eight months old at the time) chained up. The chains were too heavy for the dogs, and tethered directly around their necks, causing the smaller dogs to choke. He also did not have proper shelter for the pups.

So, why is Cook still a first-round projection, while Mixon may not end up getting drafted at all? While I like Cook’s game, and Mixon’s as well, these are not people who should be brought into the locker room. I will not stand for abuse against women, and as a dog lover, I cannot fathom how anybody could mistreat such awesome creatures.

In no way am I trying to defend Mixon, but I believe Cook’s previous legal troubles should be seriously considered by the front offices for each team as well. To be fair to Cook, the jury deemed him to be not guilty of the battery charges, but it makes you wonder if his status a superstar running back had anything to do with it. I am not saying it did or did not, just food for thought.

In Mixon’s case, it was said that the woman he assaulted was using a racial slur against him. And the video clearly shows her pushing Mixon first. I think we forget that her behavior was not OK, either, and she was not 100 percent innocent. But again, it was Mixon’s reaction to the situation that was wrong. He should have walked away from the altercation. He has since apologized, and he said he wishes he could take it back. Unfortunately, it’s too late for that.

Quinn has said in the past that he does not want to bring players into the locker room with troubled histories. He said he would have a “zero-tolerance” policy on signing players with a history of violence. He seems to have changed his tune a bit on that stance. In addition to his comments about Mixon, he also signed Andrew Quarless and Orson Charles last season. Both players have been arrested on gun charges in the past. Though, both had extremely short stints with the team.

These situations really beg the question: In the NFL, what is valued more? Is talent and selling tickets the first priority over morals and safety for the league as a whole? Each organization probably has a different perspective, but when a player with a troubled past does well for his team, do those feelings of animosity just go away because he can score touchdowns? See, Tyreek Hill. He had a breakout year in 2016, and suddenly nobody bats an eyelash about his domestic abuse charges.

I do think both Cook and Mixon can be successful running backs in the NFL based on their play alone, but should Detroit consider bringing guys like this into the organization? I’m not so sure.

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