(SP) – With the 2017 NFL Draft right around the corner, NFL teams continue to evaluate the available prospects — and perhaps no player has received more scrutiny than former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon. Off the field, the talented back is known for a high-profile incident in which he punch a woman in the face, making some NFL teams worried about the PR hit of drafting him. That concern has only been heightened in the wake of final chapter in the life of Aaron Hernandez, a player who also had many red flags coming out of college.
But teams say they are doing their due diligence with Mixon.
“I asked the kid straight out: ‘Are you going to murder a bunch of people or anything super-bad like that that might keep you off the field?'” said one NFL scout. “And he said straight out: ‘No.’ That’s good enough for me. I put the question to him like a man and he answered the way we hoped he would.”
Other teams have probed even deeper with Mixon. One personnel director said he followed up with the player after Mixon first denied he has any plans to commit heinous crimes.
“I don’t want to be duped, so when he said he wasn’t going to do anything wrong, I hit him with: ‘Are you just saying that so you get drafted and make a lot of money?’ said the exec. “And he replied ‘no’ to that, too. I mean, maybe he’s a mastermind who is misleading us, but I tried to trip him up as much as possible. I think he’s very likely a good guy now.”
Mixon says he hopes one incident doesn’t end his career.
“Everyone deserves second chances,” he said. “And really talented players also deserve third chances. Not that I should need one, of course. I’m just speaking hypothetically about a thing I won’t need.”