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The Broncos mistakenly invited Joe Mixon to Dove Valley Thursday.
They shouldn’t draft the Oklahoma running back. They shouldn’t have included him on their draft board. And they shouldn’t have brought him to Denver for an interview.
John Elway should know better.
No go on Joe.
Mixon, out of Oakley, Calif., was the No. 1-rated high school running back in the country in 2013. He decided to join the Oklahoma Sooners.
In October of his freshman year, 2014, Mixon and friends became involved in an ugly incident in Norman, Okla. It began with a confrontation on the street and homophobic slurs directed by the Mixon group at a young woman and her friend. The offended pair tried to defuse the situation by entering the nearby café, but Mixon followed them.
More angry exchanges exacerbated the argument. Mixon would claim later that he was incensed by a racial slur, and he responded with an anti-gay reference. The woman pushed and slapped Mixon. A video surveillance camera revealed that Mixon threw a powerful, wild punch at the woman; her head banged into a table, and she ended up semi-conscious on the floor.
The woman’s jaw and several other bones in her face were fractured. Mixon was unhurt physically.
Police arrested Mixon on a charge of misdemeanor assault. He was suspended from football activities the rest of the year, and the university and the athletic department finally agreed to allow Mixon to remain in the football program. In court, Mixon received a one-year deferred sentenced and was ordered by the judge to perform 100 hours of community service and attend counseling sessions.
In 2015 he rushed for 753 yards and seven touchdowns, and last season Mixon finished with 1,812 rushing and receiving yards, and declared for the NFL draft.
Mixon declined for two years to address the issue, until the video was released, and ultimately apologized to the woman. She is suing him.
A lot of Oklahoma people and football observers around the country forgave Mixon and dismissed his action as an immature youthful transgression. Of course, he was one of college football’s most outstanding players with a promising pro football future.
But there was one other disturbing episode in 2016, when Mixon was receiving a ticket from a parking attendant. He tore up the citations and flung the pieces in her face. He was suspended for one game.
Apparently, the counseling sessions hadn’t resolved all of Mixon’s anger management troubles, and he had struck out at another young woman.
The NFL banned Mixon from the recent NFL combine, but many teams traveled to Norman for Mixon’s “Pro Day’’, and he has visited a few NFL facilities for interviews.
The Broncos were the latest Thursday to hold a face-to-face dialog with Mixon – who would have been a first-round draft selection based on his on-field actions, but probably has dropped at least a couple of rounds because of his off-field activities.
NFL teams seem to develop blindness in regard to highly-skilled players.
The same year Mixon was charged, Oklahoma State receiver-runner-returner Tyreek Hill was jailed on allegations of assault and battery, by strangulation, after a fight with his pregnant girlfriend. Unlike in the Oklahoma case, Hill was kicked out of Oklahoma State and transferred to West Alabama State. He pleaded guilty in court and was placed on probation for three years.
The Chiefs drafted Hill in the fifth round a year ago, and he became the most dynamic young player in the league, and scored on a run, a reception and a return to lead the Chiefs to a victory over the Broncos in Denver.
The Broncos have drafted problem players in the recent past. Ohio State Bradley Roby drifted to the end of the first round in 2014 because of character concerns, and the Broncos took him at No. 31. The Broncos then drafted Missouri linebacker Shane Ray 23rd overall directly after he was arrested for driving with possession of marijuana.
Both Roby and Ray have been model citizens with the Broncos and in Denver. But there is a major difference between their misdeeds and video evidence of a slug breaking the jaw of a woman.
The Broncos haven’t been squeaky-clean over the years. In fact, one internet site listed the Denver franchise with the most illegal infractions among all teams in the league.
And the sons of Pat Bowlen and Elway have been arrested in the past in connection with domestic violence disputes with their girlfriends. Jack Elway and John Bowlen were given lengthy probations.
I don’t care if Mixon becomes a Pro Bowl running back and rushes some Sunday for 200 yards against the Broncos.
The Broncos shouldn’t have gone near Mixon Thursday, and should stay far away from him in the draft in April.