There are moments in history when a shift in thought is visible. Views and philosophies typically adapt and evolve over time. Those rare cases where you stop and think, “I know where I was when this happened.” They are sprinkled here and there over the generations.
We are in the post-Ray Rice era. The time shift pre and post Ray Rice was visible the day the infamous tape surfaced. When the public is merely informed of violence it is out of sight and mind, and society moves on. However, when the public is shown the violence, the outcry is obviously more turbulent.
Now we find ourselves reacting to the case of Joe Mixon. A hot-shot recruit out of California who had the future of an NFL millionaire in front of him. Then one night in July of 2014, his future became shrouded in doubt and controversy.
By now you have seen the tape. Like the Ray Rice tape before, it is incredibly unsettling to watch. Sure, select media members were shown the tape shortly after it occurred in 2014, and gave their observations through their words and writing, but it is another thing when it’s floating around your Twitter timeline in .gif format. The public is angry and want some type of justification.
The first thing would be with Mixon himself. The rule ingrained into countless little boys’ brains across the world of do not hit girls was broken. There is no defending Mixon for the punch. You will not find words here to the tune of Mixon was merely defending himself against Amelia Molitor. Perception of the incident damns Mixon as a modern day Caine who must carry the mark of “woman beater” for the rest of his life.
The second actor in this situation is the University of Oklahoma itself. President David Boren, Athletic Director Joe Castiglione and head coach Bob Stoops.
Stoops, the 18-year head coach, should be awarded some benefit of the doubt based on his track record with discipline. He deemed the incident worthy of dealing out a second chance for Mixon. After all, Molitor brought the situation into the physical realm when she put her hands on Mixon. But use your eyes, your common sense. You begin to rightfully question what Oklahoma’s leadership was thinking in the summer of 2014. How could they have seen that tape and thought a second chance was necessary?
The case for or against the woman in the situation is equally as tricky. She did in fact place her hands on Mixon in an aggressive manner. The damage done was not physical but out of a common thought to not place your hands on anyone in such a way. Despite her actions, what she received from Mixon does not balance with her initial aggressive gesture. The victim shaming she has received since the incident has opened up another regrettable piece in this web of madness.
If by now you’re reaching for your Tylenol, don’t worry. This whole situation is a headache.
The question comes down to whether you as an individual believe Mixon should be playing football at Oklahoma still. The fact however is that he is still a Sooner. Until he messes up again — and if you want to make the connection between hitting a woman and ripping up a parking ticket and throwing its torn remains at the attendant, then we will just have a philosophical difference on the term “violent” — who are we to question if Stoops made the wrong decision.
It is important to remember that Stoops has done something similar in the past. Two weeks into 2004 season, he suspended defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek for the remainder of the year for getting drunk and punching his high school friend so hard it sent him to the hospital. Dvoracek was allowed to return to the team in 2005 and improved his life for the better — a three year NFL campaign as well as a successful career in sports media for Oklahoma City radio and ESPN. Dvoracek’s case is a perfect example of what you can do when given an opportunity to atone for your past mistakes and improve as a person.
The examples that some bring up where Stoops chose to completely remove players from the school are Rhett Bomar or Josh Jarboe. How could Stoops keep a player like Mixon who committed such a disgusting act while kicking off players like Bomar or Jarboe who committed less heinous acts? That is when it is important to remember these players were already on their second chances.
Bomar endured a few underage drinking charges before finally being caught being paid for a job he didn’t attend — also an NCAA violation. Still Bomar was on a short leash due to attitude and character issues. After he made a mistake similar or worse, he was removed.
The same with Jarboe. He was a highly-touted wide receiver recruit that had issues with handguns in high school. When he arrived at OU in 2008 he was under a watch similar to Mixon after his incident. Jarboe was expected to follow a stricter set of rules. Then a video was released of him rapping with lyrics referring to, among other things, killing. Jarboe was shown the door.
Stoops’ track record in these cases have shown that he can allow second chances to not only occur but to flourish. Do they always succeed? Obviously no. Each case is different and needs to be shown the proper respect. Time will tell however with Mixon if he decides to return for a third year at Oklahoma or not.
Mixon has served his punishment with both the legal system and the university. Hours of community service to go along with mandatory anger therapy, along with the year long removal from the football team in 2014.
There will be no retroactive punishment. From what we can research, Mixon was a relatively good kid and student prior to his arrival at Oklahoma with no criminal background. Since the incident, it has been much of the same. He has kept his part of the bargain with Stoops thus far.
It is important not to bring emotion into the case that pertains to the law. Those defending Mixon or condemning him — as well as for Molitor — are missing the point. This is a problem in our society. A problem that should not only be concerning to the public if by chance a video tape surfaces. For victims, it is important to remember the difficulty of telling the truth or even seeking justice in these cases. Shame is a powerful tool used against those who find themselves on the wrong side of hate-filled fist.
Oklahoma made their choice and will have to live with it. If Mixon returns to the Sooners next season and keeps his nose clean as well as succeeding on the field, there will be very little reason to still condemn Stoops, Castiglione or Boren. If Mixon makes another similar mistake, all bets are off — people will have to lose their jobs and privlaedges.
The entire two year saga that led to the ultimate climax of the tape release has been ugly. The days in the wake of the release have been equally as ugly. But this is a society that is based upon second chances. If we don’t allow second chances to flourish, should we expect those who make mistakes to improve as human beings? If you believe in second chances but don’t believe Mixon should be receiving it at Oklahoma, there is nothing wrong with that. The problem is that the argument for that will get you nowhere. It is all done — the crime, the punishment, the serving of the consequences. It is time to focus on the future.
Something Mixon should have remembered on that night in July 2014.