Mixon's Future In Jeopardy

While Mike Tice refused to comment Tuesday about the future of Kenny Mixon with the Vikings, rumblings are coming out of Winter Park that his third alcohol offense in 17 months since joining the team may end up being his third strike with the team.

Mike Tice has earned a reputation as being a hard-liner when it comes to living up to expectations. Wide receiver Derrick Alexander found that out the hard way when, as the only long-time veteran wide receiver on the team, he was cut during training camp after accepting a massive pay cut in the off-season.

Byron Chamberlain learned a similar lesson when he was released after serving a four-game suspension for testing positive for ephedra. After the 2002 season, Tice had told Chamberlain he needed to lose weight to remain a starter. When he hedged in his attempt to lose weight, he lost his job.

Now the question turns to Kenny Mixon, whose trouble with alcohol and driving have left his future with the team in serious jeopardy as the team gets hit with another black eye that compounds their current losing streak.

Mixon, who was pulled over at 3 a.m. Tuesday, was arrested and reportedly had a blood alcohol count of .19 -- almost twice the legal limit. But perhaps the bigger problem is that this is his third alcohol-related offense since joining the Vikings.

Mixon was first arrested in July, 2002, for open bottle and driving under the influence. He refused to take a Breatholizer test and, under Minnesota law, automatically had his driver's license revoked for one year. Earlier this year, Mixon was again charged with drinking and driving, as well as driving under revocation. He fought the charge in court and won, but his license remained revoked by the state.

This latest offense, coming just days after fellow defensive lineman Kevin Williams was arrested for D.W.I., is his third incident and perhaps the most egregious of them all. This time the NFL will almost assuredly come down on him with a suspension.

When asked about potential suspensions from the team, Tice said the team didn't have plans to suspend either Mixon or Williams. But, because of his prior incidents, Mixon is believed to already be part of the league's substance abuse program -- to what level remains unclear, because the NFL is about as forthcoming about its substance abuse policy as the CIA is about the location of Osama bin Laden. If convicted, it is likely Mixon will be subject to a four-game suspension, but the policy is a bit unclear since the NFL, while categorizing alcohol as a drug, has a different policy than if he had tested positive for marijuana, cocaine or steroids.

If nothing else, this is a stain on Mixon and the Vikings as an organization. In the end, it may be the third strike that, after the end of the 2003 season, could spell the end of Mixon's Vikings career.

* Williams' blood alcohol count from his arrest was .14.
* Both Williams and Mixon are expected to start Sunday ... at least for now. Tice made no comment on their current status, but may sit one or both of them by deactivating them on Sunday.

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