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Berry Tramel

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Emails in on Joe Mixon

by Berry Tramel Published: August 19, 2014
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Joe Mixon walks outside the Cleveland County courthouse Monday. (Photo by Steve Sisney)
Joe Mixon walks outside the Cleveland County courthouse Monday. (Photo by Steve Sisney)

The emails are in on Joe Mixon and my Tuesday column, which you can read here. Let’s get right to them:

Andrew: “Very surprised to read your column about Joe Mixon “being the guy who hit that girl.” I agree with the punishment and am never for violence against women, but you are overreaching here and speaking out of turn. Mixon can turn this situation into a positive if he were to sincerely apologize. We are a state of forgiveness and second chances. He does not have a criminal history that I am aware of. Maybe he will play for OU or go elsewhere and be a productive student athlete, but to outcast him because of a single bad decision is an overreaction.”

I didn’t outcast him. I said he’s going to be known for a long time as the guy who hit the girl. Is there some debate about that? But I’m fascinated about the concept of an apology. Think about that. Marcus Smart pushed some Texas Tech yardbird, got suspended three games (longer than Ray Rice’s suspension) and apologized in less than 24 hours. I guess the legal proceedings prevent Mixon from any kind of apology to the woman or his teammates or OU, but it’s still interesting.

Jim: “I got to add my two cents. Mixon, keep him on scholarship? For what? He did not come to OU to learn anything, very few of them learn anything more than phys ed or homemaking courses. He would be gone in one year or two at most anyway. So, who is paying for his lawyers, his fancy haircut, his earrings, his expenses? The least he could have done in that late night deal was to try help the girl up, but instead he ran.  Does he still eat for free with the athletes? The taxpayers have a right to know.”

No, the taxpayers don’t have a right to know. You’re not funding any of the endeavors. But I assume Mixon still is living at Headington Hall.

Ken: “First, full disclosure, I’m a long-time OU season ticket holder. However, I think Mixon got what he deserves, maybe less. But my question is: Why did Boren see fit to interject himself into this matter?  If it had been a scholarship student in the biology department, think he would have jumped in?  I know athletes are more in the public eye than the rest of the students but this seems to be more CYA than concern for the victim or for Mixon himself.”

OU is involved in a variety of cases that involve student actions that have nothing to do with athletes. OU has a list of problem students and constantly monitors and disciplines them. And part of Boren’s job is to maintain the image of the university in a certain way. As soon as Mixon threw that punch, Boren’s involvement was assured.

Kevin: “Let me start by saying I like reading and listening to you on the radio. I have a question for you. Boren has double standards. A few years ago, a vice president at OU was arrested for beating his wife. That’s kinda like Mixon only less, but he wasn’t suspended or fired or anything. He was moved to a different building and kept his VP post. Now isn’t that kind of going against what Boren said in his press release? Double standards lives on.”

Actually, the OU executive took a leave of absence and didn’t return to his post for awhile. Mixon didn’t lose his scholarship. It’s not apples and apples, but I don’t think Boren comes out looking hypocritical.

Tom: “I agree with your article, however, this sudden morality on the part of OU is hypocritical. The DGB transfer and run off rule waiver appeal (trying to manipulate the rules) trumps everything that Boren wrote in his article. It was pure and simple an effort to win at all costs.  The question is whether their actions concerning Shannon and Mixon would have been the same without the DGB transfer that was in the works well before the Title IX committee suspended Shannon and obviously before the Mixon situation. The irony is out of the three, Shannon will be the biggest loss — probably catastrophic to possibility of the national championship.  We will never really know if the bad PR coming from the DGB transfer influenced the Mixon and Shannon decisions. However, we will always know that the DGB transfer was about winning at all costs. I believe that regardless of their efforts, the DGB situation will continue to produce bad PR.”

Can’t disagree. OU comes out looking bad on Dorial Green-Beckham. Shannon and Mixon, OU can claim surprise. But not DGB. Eyes were wide open.

Dave: “I am not sure you ever watched “Notting Hill” with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. I am a movie buff. But Roberts played a movie star and is photographed by dozens of media along with Grant’s character in underwear at Grant’s townhouse after spending the night together. She is hurt and livid as he says paraphrasing “it is only one picture … in a week or so people will forget it and that no-name bookstore owner with you in the pic … in a year or more it will all be forgotten.” Profoundly, Roberts’ character says, “no way in Hell … you see, I am a movie star, a public person in the public eye. That picture will be filed along with copies at every news desk my pictures are shown. Every time I travel, speak, make a mistake or just do anything newsworthy, that picture along with the caption about staying with the bookstore owner in Notting Hill will haunt me the rest of my life. There is no end to the memory of the media or their files.” This is exactly what Mixon is facing,  as you put it well in your article.  Maybe Leach and Washington State are remote enough for him, but think of the fan frenzy at Stillwater, Dallas, Lubbock and others with all fans do to embarrass OU. If Mixon stays at OU he will be crucified. A new start is what he does need.”

I never saw “Notting Hill.” Never been a Hugh Grant fan. As for Mixon, I don’t know if he needs a new start. And I think he can overcome this. But the stigma will be with him for a long time.

Ron: “Enough already! In all seriousness, your obsession with ‘ohmygodhehitagirl’ is a little over played.  Yes, most of us agree he shouldn’t have done it.  That isn’t really up for debate.  But only in Oklahoma and a handful of other states would the now well-documented fact that the entire episode started by Mixon’s own anti-gay slur be all but ignored.   Your entire outrage about one thing and not the other is very 1985.  Also you sound like an old man as you continue to focus on his ‘poor judgment’ for being out ‘after midnight.’ It seems as though you will not shut up until he hightails it back to Cali for good.  There, though, the public opinion will be no less forgiving and perhaps even less so, as this is an area of America where making homophobic remarks is not endorsed/ignored.”

I have a legitimate question. Which one of us is obsessed?

Larry: “Guess the powers that be decided to send a message (to the current team, recruits, parents, the university community and the viewing public at large).  Under the current circumstances, can’t really say that I blame them.  Having said that, I am sad for Mixon.  Too bad that it can’t be a suspension where he can still practice and become bonded to the team.  That would help the kid with some of his isolation issues.”

It is interesting. Why the banishment from all team activities? Seems like it’s a test. Give Mixon half a year to figure out how badly he wants to play football and/or stay at OU.

Jordan: “I read your article today about how Joe Mixon will always be the guy that hit the girl, and it was great writing and a great point to make. I am in complete agreement with the majority of people who say Mixon was entirely wrong in punching the victim in the face. That was obscene and uncalled for, no matter how he may have been provoked. And beyond that, I completely agree with the decision by the university to suspend him from all team activities for the entire year. I continue to gain respect for Bob Stoops due to the way he runs his program. My question is related to something DA Greg Mashburn said on Friday. He is quoted as saying, ‘If he [Mixon] had punched a man, no charges are brought more than likely.’ Let me be clear: I think violence against women is unacceptable, no matter the situation. That is not my issue. Hypothetically, though, let’s recreate the incident, but have the victim be a man. What makes him breaking four bones in another human’s face more acceptable, just because it is a man? In my opinion, breaking four bones in someone’s face, man or woman, is unacceptable. I know the occurrences for violence against women is rapidly increasing and I think that is absolutely terrible and very saddening. But violence against men is not any more acceptable.”

It’s a valid point. Gender is not an issue in the law. That’s why I think Mixon has a decent shot in court, if he doesn’t want to plead out.

Tim: “You make some good points, but it seems as if you are arguing that breaking an NCAA rule (Rhett Bomar) is a much bigger wrongful act than this extremely sensitive societal rule and thus justified a more severe punishment, and that is not right. If this was your daughter who was involved, would you answer the same, or would you maintain he should be removed from the university? In the bigger picture, who really cares if Bomar lied to Stoop and accepted cash for something he didn’t do? That happens probably everyday in college athletics.  So he put OU in jeopardy with the NCAA, which we know has far reaching multimillion dollar implications, and could have harmed many innocent people with an NCAA penalty.  That is more wrong that what Joe Mixon did? Protecting the OU brand is more important than the women in our community?  No way. In my opinion, Bomar was punished adequately for that, Mixon was not.”

Bob Stoops is not running a university or running a society. He is running a football team. And you drew the wrong card. If it was my daughter, and she was drunk and a druggie and a bigot, without a lick of sense, I would not be able to summon much outrage. Joe Mixon made a big mistake. Committed a crime in the eyes of the DA. And now Joe Mixon is paying what I consider to be a huge price. It strikes me as odd that you want him to pay an even bigger price.

Stephen: “Your article in today’s paper was very well written, and I agree with every word you said. Just out of curiosity, do you think that by not charging the girl for assault and battery, the word is out that any woman can now abuse and assault football players or make false accusations without worrying about legal consequences? Think about it. If an opposing team fan wants to take out an effective football player, all they have to do is send in a young woman and create an incident or make a false accusation, and BOOM, the player is suspended for the duration of an investigation and the team is demoralized before the game is played. While I strongly disagree with Mixon’s actions, he should have turned around and walked away, I am concerned that by not filing charges against the young lady as well may be sending a message of unintended consequences to the opposite sex. What do you think?”

I think it would be easier just to hire Jeff Gillooly. Come on. Here’s the message that was sent. Go out hang out drinking at 2:30 a.m. and bad things are going to happen to everybody. The woman in question got her face rearranged and whatever was left of her reputation destroyed. Who cares if the D.A. filed any charges against her?

Todd: “For years I have enjoyed listening to you on the radio and reading your articles and will continue to do so in the future (I think).  However, I continue to question what your (and the Oklahoman’s) motive is for using such insensitive headlines like the one about Joe Mixon. Joe Mixon was wrong, period.  However, what if you were Joe Mixon?  Better yet, what if your son was Joe Mixon?  Would you like to be defined by one incident the rest of your life?  Would you like your son to wear this ‘Scarlett Letter’ around for the rest of his life?  Or would you encourage him that he can change directions and live a wonderful life that is defined by grace and forgiveness. As you and The Oklahoman have had to learn in the recent past, your headline isn’t just a headline.  You have a voice.  Today, you again chose an ugly, judgmental voice that sucks life from all involved.  You are better than that, I hope.”

If I was Joe Mixon’s father, no, I wouldn’t like it. And me not liking it wouldn’t change one thing. If our headline was half the size, and on Page 4, and said “Mixon suspended,” it wouldn’t change one thing. We did not create this. And we cannot stop it. Joe Mixon is known as the guy who hit the girl. And he can change that. But it’s going to take a long time.

Jeff: “Jason Kersey wrote that OU took a major hit with the Mixon suspension. I hate to see him suspended and was looking forward to seeing him play, but the fact is that he’s a freshman. Nobody truly knows what sort of impact he would have had. Who’s to say he would have beaten out Ford and Ross? OU has had a few 5-star backs who did nothing as freshmen. A blow, yes, but a major one? Not so sure. Lots of talent at that position as is. Hope we will see him next year. I kinda fear he could transfer. Any hearings of such?”

I have no idea what Mixon will do. But I agree with you. I also have no idea if this guy was going to make an impact or not. If Mixon had been a three-star recruit, both OU and Mixon would have been better off.

Harry: “I’ve been following your articles on Joe Mixon’s big problem from the get go.  And I believe you have turned in yet another gutsy approach to stating the case the way that it actually is for both OU and Mixon, rather than some kind of pandering to the National Signing Day Sinbads of the world.”

Sinbads. I love the name Sinbads.

John: “From all I have heard, the Picklemen’s video of the Mixon incident is radioactive.  It will one day be made public (people in Stillwater are demanding it to be so right now), and when it eventually is, it will not be pretty. Local and national sports media will pare it down to a 2-3 second clip of the punch, which will not show what led up to the swing.  They will show this clip again and again, until most people are sick of it.  Then, they will play it some more. ‘If it bleeds, it leads…’ OU simply had no other option.  If I were a betting man, I would wager that Joe never takes a snap for the Sooners.  I wish him luck getting on with the rest of his life.”

I’ve heard all kinds of things about the video, but I would say that it doesn’t make a big impact when it’s released. Joe Mixon is big here, but he’s not big anywhere. Never so much as practiced with the Sooners. I doubt the national media dwells on it too long.

Glenna: “I’ve never responded to a newspaper article before and why I read a sports story is beyond me.  However, your writing and coverage of the subject was the most eloquent prose I have ever read in The Oklahoman.  I do not follow sports.  I’m a horse person.  I thought your story would be another ‘boys will be boys’ excuse for Mr. Mixon’s actions.  Instead, you wrote a concise, rational and prosaic essay on the effect of a rash action and its horrible consequences on the life of that young man.  Maybe it will make him a better man.”

Thanks, Glenna. Come on over to the sports side. We could use more like you.

D.: “Great article on Mixon always being labeled the guy who hit a girl.  It’s true and, in my opinion, fair.  It’s not exactly up there with being labeled a sex offender, but it’s worse than being known as that guy who stole crab legs.  Ironically, Winston should wear both of those badges of shame, although he doesn’t. So, Mixon gets to stay at OU, but he can’t be a part of the team.  OK, if that is what Coach Stoops decided, I applaud the decision.  Mr. Stoops is no joke.  Never has been.  I know he is a man of integrity.   He’s made tough decisions like this in other instances —Bomar, Broyles, Shannon, etc.  I’m not an OU fan, but I am a Bob Stoops fan.  I have a very high level of respect for him. If Mixon endures his punishment, he can learn from it and grow.  We shall see how bad Mixon really wants to turn this around.  If he can face the consequences of his actions and turn it around, I think it will repair his image somewhat. We all face adversity in our lives, especially as young students.  I get it that the difference here is that Mixon was responsible for creating his own adversity.  But if he has what it takes, if he has the mettle to stick it out, if he can go on to have a great football career at OU, then, perhaps, he will be known as that guy who hit that girl and did everything right to overcome.  However, I think that Mixon should start this process by apologizing to Ms. Molitor and her family, privately and publically.  Do you agree?”

I agree. An apology would be good, but he’s got the legal ramifications to deal with. I think he’s got a good shot at exoneration, so his lawyer probably won’t permit it.

Phil: Good article today.  I, like you and most, thought 3-4 games suspended would be his punishment.  Then, yesterday, when I saw the picture of him walking in to the courthouse with his head cocked back and the stars cut into his hair, I thought this guy thinks he’s above what’s going on, and his attitude needs some work.   God help him.  This could turn out for his good later, if he will humble himself.  If not, he’s in for a long stretch of misery.”

It’s a great question. How humbled has Joe Mixon become? That really is the prevailing question.

Jan: “I am a 64-year-old woman who utterly NEVER reads the sports section of The Oklahoman, butthis morning as I scanned the paper, your headline instantly drew me in. Sports may not be my main thing, but a man hitting a woman makes me angry and disgusted. Your commentary on Mixon brought into focus, and pin-pointed, not only the idiotic act of this ‘kid,’ but the lifelong consequences of such a stupid response to something he should have obviously walked away from (if he’d have been a mature man). Even the photo with your article (as well as on TV) shows this little creep to have the attitude and stature of a gang member; cocky and self-assured. Why would OU ever need this type of person on its team to begin with. Colleges need to start putting responsibility and character first on the checklist for a potential recruit. If OU had not suspended Mixon for a year (should be forever), I would have openly stopped supporting the entire athletic program of the university. If he even stays long enough at OU to become part of the team I will never support him as a member. As far as I’m concerned, he needs to head back to California where hitting a girl is OK. In closing, I assure you that I will look more closely at the sports section, and your commentaries, from now on. I commend you for having the integrity and independence to write the truth, not just an excuse for the gross actions of Mixon. Your article was a true work of art.”

Man, Joe Mixon did himself no favors yesterday with the way he presented himself. I didn’t even think anything about it, but the star cut into the side of his head has been a flashpoint. The lawyer should have gotten in front of that one. Won’t matter in court, I don’t think, but for a guy who needs to start rebuilding his reputation, that would have been an easy place to start.

Trent: “If Mr.Mixon will be remembered as the player who hit the girl, why is Bosworth not remembered as the player with the Communist t-shirt? OU still recognizes him as a great Sooner.”

I think Bosworth is remembered as the steroid user/T-shirt wearer. And if he’s not, it’s because 25 years have past. I never said Mixon was serving a life sentence. But getting past that stigma is going to take a long time.

Scott: “I’ve been pondering what lessons could be learned by the decisions reached yesterday both at the University of Oklahoma and the Cleveland County DA’s office.  Apparently women can’t be held responsible for their actions.  How many times would our pure-as-white-driven-snow victim have to hit someone before the DA’s office thought that maybe we should get this psycho’s attention?   Should Joe have hit her?   Obviously not and he’s paying a way too harsh penalty for that in my opinion, but back to our little princess.  Some are saying that her pain and suffering is all the punishment she needs.   Wait?   Does the DA not charge people who wreck their cars because they are drunk and end up in the hospital for weeks with injuries?   Nope, they prosecute those people to the full extent of the law regardless of how many bones they break.  So the princess has been taught a big lesson here.  She can do anything she wants and all you white knights at the DA’s office, radio, OU and sports page will rush to her defense because she’s a girl. Justice is blind?   Maybe but evidently it can smell perfume.  How many times did she have to hit him, Berry?  My guess is that she could have hit Joe a thousand times and she’d still be an angel compared to some black guy from California.”

Wow. You know what’s interesting about the Joe Mixon case. The level of anger that it invokes in people. Most people that I deal with, readers, colleagues, OU, everybody, we talk about Joe Mixon. Because that’s what’s relevant to us. I don’t know what the DA should have done with Molitor. But I know this. Her face is shattered and so is her reputation. Mixon is going to get off lightly, in a court of law at least, and maybe off all together. Like I said, I don’t see him being found guilty. But the anger of people on both sides is startling.

 

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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