While the Minnesota Vikings have met with controversial running back Joe Mixon, with head coach Mike Zimmer attending his pro day and pictured walking out with Mixon, the jury on his NFL future – and draft stock – is still out.
Mixon was suspended for the 2014 season for punching a female student after she shoved him. After video was released of the incident, he publicly apologized, but it became a hot topic again on Wednesday when a previous allegation resurfaced that was also recanted long ago.
Anthony Hernandez, the father of a girl Mixon knew in high school, posted on Facebook that “I know for a fact he threw my daughter to the ground and hit her,” but Hernandez recanted that statement and the lawyer for Mixon, Blake Johnson of Crowe and Dunlevy, on Wednesday forwarded to Pro Football Talk a more in-depth clarification from Hernandez.
“I have recently learned that a comment I made about Joe Mixon on social media a few years ago is now receiving a lot of attention. I want to explain that comment and clarify that I do not believe Joe ever did anything to hurt my daughter,” Hernandez wrote in his statement to Mixon’s lawyer.
“My daughter went to Freedom High School with Joe, and they have been friends for much of their lives. Once, when they were in school together, my daughter had a minor disagreement with some of her classmates that got blown out of proportion. Like any father would, I reacted emotionally. Unfortunately, I did so before I had all the facts. Now, having talked to my daughter and investigated the whole story, I realize that I was mistaken about Joe’s involvement. I definitely overreacted, and I regret that my words might have given some people the wrong impression about Joe. I know that Joe did not hurt my daughter, did not intend to, and would not do so.
“Joe and my daughter are still good friends. Joe is a great kid with a bright future in front of him, and he is welcome in my home anytime.”
Later on Wednesday, Peter Schaffer, Mixon’s agent, spoke to Bruce Murray and Brady Quinn on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
“Under no circumstances does he deny or not accept responsibility for what happened, but we all make mistakes and some of them more egregious,” Schaffer said of the incident from college while rebutting the allegations from the high school incident. “Under no circumstances do people say you should hit a woman – I don’t think you should hit anybody. I certainly don’t think a man should ever hit a woman.”
Mixon wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine because of the incident in college, but Schaffer termed Mixon’s exclusion from the Combine a “blessing” because it meant teams would have a chance to spend more time with him on private visits instead of settling for the 15-minute interview at the Combine that can be like “speed dating.”
“Part of our job is to make sure everybody gets to truly know and understand what this young man is and what’s he going to do on the field and what he’s going to do off the field and what he’s doing to make amends for a mistake that he made three years ago when he was 18 years old,” Schaffer said.
“There’s 32 teams with 32 different decision-making processes and 32 different owners and 32 different people that are making the draft choices, so every team is going to be different.”
The high school allegation that re-surfaced on Wednesday has brought additional scrutiny on Mixon this week.
Johnson, Mixon’s attorney, told PFT that he spoke to “multiple administrative officials at Freedom High School who assured me that no such incident ever took place there,” and that Mixon’s disciplinary record from high school reveals no such incident.
“Things fly the week before the draft and you can’t get too high or get too low. The fact that some mock draft has you in the first round or some mock draft has you in the second, you can’t worry about it,” Schaffer, Mixon’s agent, said. “With these situations, you only hope that the media people that put them out there be professional and call you up and say, ‘Hey, we have this allegation. Do you have a response?’ My big issue today was that they put it out there without calling us up or asking us for a response or the truth. Other people had called on this and we sent them the statement from the father and people moved on. These people went out there without even asking for it. That’s what’s sort of disappointing.”
Mixon is considered a first-round talent, but concerns over his character are expected to drop him well out of the first round. Some teams have reportedly pulled him completely off their draft board. It’s unclear if the Vikings are one of those teams, and their additional visit with him at his pro day shouldn’t be considered an indication one way or another. Schaffer said no teams have told him that Mixon is off their draft board, but he also knows that the truth at this time of year is difficult to decipher when it to the draft intentions of NFL teams.
“The draft is not an exact science and you cannot allow the draft to define your career. What’s going to define your career is what you do on the field Sunday for hopefully the next decade, what you do off the field, what you do the locker room. … Regardless of where you get drafted, you can bitch and moan about it all you want or go out there and prove that they were wrong. That’s what’s going to matter,” Schaffer told Sirius XM.
“Whatever team gets him and drafts him, he’s going to be an outstanding citizen off the field and in the locker room and on the field. Hopefully he’s going to be able to make amends for what he’s done in the past and have a great career and make his family proud.”