Dear Joe Mixon,
As you prepare for the NFL draft, I've been tasked with writing my thoughts on your current situation. Many of us in the sports media saw the video of you hitting a woman. We saw everything that transpired. We saw her hit you - we saw you hit her.
And judgments of you were made accordingly.
I'm struggling with what to write. On the one hand there is no excuse for what you did. You simply do not hit a woman, ever.
On the other hand, I am a mom of three kids – one daughter, two sons. I've seen my kids make great choices and not so great choices. I'm sure this will continue throughout their life. Some decisions can be well thought out, planned even. Other times, we make split-second decisions sometimes in the heat of the moment.
Heck, looking back on it now, I'm sure I put my mom through hell sometimes with decisions I made when I was younger. Choices are a part of life. We choose to learn from them or not.
A poor decision was made by you. That's something you'll live with for the rest of your life. Every choice you make from here on out will be scrutinized, especially because of social media.
All we can do is learn from our choices.
There are those in sports media who never want to see you have an opportunity to succeed. They want you to pay for this choice for the rest your life. They'll make sure that you do with disparaging remarks on social media. Then there are those who say you have learned from your mistakes and should be given an opportunity to play in the NFL.
Who is right?
I've read your quotes saying you have learned from your choices. I hope that is true. Not for the fact that it affords you the opportunity to play in the NFL, but for the sole reason to be a contributing, successful, encouraging member of society.
For better or worse, you now have a platform. How you choose to use it will say more about you and what you have learned than anything else so far in your life.
The question posed to me is how I feel about you being drafted in the NFL. I don't know. Since I haven't sat down to talk with you myself, face-to-face, I can only give an outside opinion and ask myself some questions.
Do I believe in second chances? Yes.
Do I believe that people should pay for their crimes? Yes.
Do I believe every single person is responsible for their own actions? Yes.
Do I believe one person’s actions can prompt response, positive or negative, by another person? Yes.
Are there some things that are unforgivable? Well, I wish I could say no, there is nothing unforgivable, but I can't.
I'm not that evolved of a person to say that every little thing can be forgiven. I can only speak from personal experience.
I've had things done and said to me that some would deem unforgivable. I've also said things that, if captured on social media, would've put me under the microscope you now live under.
Who am I to say you do or don't deserve a second chance? Far too often, a mob mentality forms in sports media. Dialogue takes a back seat to 140-character reactions.
Perhaps that's why I am writing this open letter to you. I don't want to be like other sports journalists who have condemned or praised you. What I want to do is challenge you, young sir.
I challenge you to prove to yourself that your words are true. Prove to yourself that you have changed, you've learned from your mistakes and you're a better man. Prove to yourself that this platform you now have is about helping others, not you.
Prove to yourself that, NFL or not, who you are today is only the beginning.
To borrow football terminology, the ball is in your hands.
What will you do with it?