The Cincinnati Bengals took a big risk selecting Joe Mixon out of Oklahoma in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, but they did it with eyes wide open. Head coach Marvin Lewis, in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio Thursday, delved into exactly what the team did before the draft to get all the facts about the young man.
“A lot of time, a lot of research,” Lewis said (h/t Conor Orr of NFL.com). “Time spent with Joe. Time researching people around Joe. Joe’s past in East Bay [California]. All those kinds of things that way. His past on campus at Oklahoma since the incident. So, there couldn’t be any other red flags to say, ‘Well, well, maybe…’ No, no, no. It had to be clean, and Joe knows that. He knows going forward, it has to stay clean all the time. He’s lived on the tip of the sword for three years now, and he’s got to continue to probably for the rest of his life.”
Mixon missed his freshman season at Oklahoma after punching a female student — an action that became very public this past winter when video emerged showing just how brutal the attack was. He was also accused of punching a girl at his high school, though that allegation was rescinded by the girl’s father before the draft.
The Bengals have a tendency to take big risks on players who have a history of character issues. Two prominent examples on the team currently, aside from Mixon, are linebacker Vontaze Burfict (whose dirty play literally cost the team a playoff win against hated Pittsburgh) and cornerback Adam Jones.
In particular, it’s baffling how Jones’ continued off-field issues are overlooked time and time again by the organization. Perhaps even more troubling is the fact that Jones has been taking Mixon under his wing.
That Mixon is a talented young player is undeniable, which Lewis touched on in his appearance with SiriusXM NFL Radio.
“He’s off the charts talent-wise,” Lewis said. “Big, fast, catch, run, see, smart — and he’s a 20-year-old kid. He’s as smart as a whip. You know, I mean, those things are fun. And I keep reminding everybody, he’s a 20-year-old kid. Keep understanding that. Let Joe continue to grow and develop as we go.”
There are players on Cincinnati’s roster, such as A.J. Green and Andy Dalton, who are as clean as a whistle when it comes to knowing how to behave in a manner befitting a professional. Hopefully in the future, Mixon relies on their counsel and support, rather than seeking out the likes of Jones.