GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers have not ruled out drafting Joe Mixon, the Oklahoma running back whom the NFL barred from attending the scouting combine because he punched a woman in the face in 2014.
If they had, they wouldn’t have brought Mixon to Lambeau Field for an interview this week.
A source confirmed an NFL Network report that the Packers are one of numerous teams who have brought in or intend to bring in Mixon for an interview. Normally, teams would interview him at the combine, but because the NFL barred him from attending, they are hosting him on a visit.
NFL.com reported that Mixon also has visited or has scheduled visits with the Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints, Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers and Oakland Raiders.
Several teams, according to reports, have taken Mixon off their draft board because of the 2014 incident, for which the talented running back entered an Alford plea that allows the defendant to plead guilty and still maintain his innocence.
Mixon received a deferred one-year sentence, was ordered to undergo counseling and serve 100 hours of community service. He also was suspended for the entire 2014 football season.
In the two seasons that followed, Mixon was one of the most productive backs in the nation, rushing for 1,274 yards and 10 touchdowns with 37 receptions for 538 yards and five touchdowns last year. He declared for the draft early and is now trying to convince NFL teams that he is not a risk.
At his pro day at Oklahoma, Mixon measured 6 feet and ¾ inches and weighed 228 pounds. Reports said he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds, had a vertical jump of 35 inches and bench-pressed 225 pounds 21 times.
Packers general manager Ted Thompson was not available for comment regarding Mixon’s visit.
The Packers are in need of a running back after losing free agent Eddie Lacy to the Seattle Seahawks and cutting veteran backup James Starks. They are almost certain to draft one given it is an excellent year for running backs and they are thin there with only converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery, veteran Christine Michael and second-year pro Don Jackson signed.
The Packers have the 29th pick in the first round.
Contrary to having a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to off-the-field incidents, Thompson has given a number of players and coaches second chances.
Thompson stuck with defensive lineman Letroy Guion through three suspensions and a drug-related arrest, tight end Andrew Quarless through an incident in which he fired a gun in a public place, linebacker Datone Jones through a ticket for marijuana possession, defensive tackle Johnny Jolly through a drug conviction and cornerback Brandon Underwood through multiple off-the-field incidents, to name just a few.
Scouts have said that Mixon would have been a first-round pick were it not for his well-publicized punch of the woman. One scout said Mixon probably would be a third- or fourth-round pick because of his past, which also includes an incident with a parking meter attendant in November that resulted in Oklahoma suspending him for one game.
Mixon was 18 at the time he was charged with a misdemeanor count of acts resulting in gross injury after he punched a woman in a Norman, Okla., restaurant and broke several bones in her face. The woman filed a civil suit in federal court against Mixon.
In December, more than two years after the incident, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ordered surveillance video inside the restaurant to be released. It showed Mixon confronting the woman and some friends and the woman slapping Mixon before he punched her in the face.
In his first public comments on the incident Feb. 9, Mixon apologized for his actions, saying, "It's never, never OK to retaliate and hit a woman the way I did. I'm here to apologize to everybody that was affected."
Mixon said he had heard a male friend of the woman use a racial slur. He responded with an anti-gay slur. He told police that the woman’s slap felt like “a dude hit me.”
In the incident with the parking attendant, he allegedly tore up a citation and threw it in a female attendant’s face, according to an incident report obtained by KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City. He also allegedly inched toward the attendant with his car to intimidate her.
NOTE: The Packers signed long snapper Derek Hart, who played at James Madison from 2012-15. He joins another street free-agent long snapper, Taybor Pepper, on the roster. Veteran Brett Goode remains unsigned.