Indianapolis — The Detroit Lions are leaving the door open to drafting Joe Mixon, the Oklahoma running back who punched a woman in the face, breaking her jaw, during an altercation at a Norman restaurant in 2014. A video of the incident was released earlier this year.
“We’re going to leave the door open on Joe,” Lions general manager Bob Quinn said. “The door is open and I’d like to be able to sit down with the people who know Joe or Joe and see what the circumstances were around the incident.”
Despite being considered by many analysts as one of the most talented running backs in the upcoming draft, Mixon wasn’t invited to the league’s scouting combine because of the 2014 incident. The decision to bar him from the event irked Quinn, who felt it robbed teams an opportunity to properly vet the back.
“I think it’s really disappointing that Joe is not here,” Quinn said. “Him not being here because of those issues, personally, I don’t think that’s really fair because we have a lot of investigation that we want to do on him and to get him in one spot for all the teams would have been great. I’m not part of those decisions how those guys are chosen, but I do think it’s a disappointment that guys like him, and there are a few others that you could put in that category, that we’re going to be chasing around in the months of March and April.”
NFL teams are permitted to host 30 prospects for visits at their team facilities in the weeks leading up to the draft. Quinn said the Lions are still sorting through which players they’d like to host and haven’t ruled out bringing Mixon to Allen Park.
The fact that the Lions are even considering Mixon is a drastic shift from comments Quinn made in his introductory press conference as Detroit’s general manager last year, when he stated he had a zero-tolerance policy for players involved in domestic violence and gun crime incidents.
Quinn bucked that philosophy within months when he signed a pair of tight ends — Orson Charles and Andrew Quarless — last offseason, despite gun crimes on both players’ resumes.
Asked about his change, Quinn admitted he had made a mistake with his original comments.
“I thought about that, I honestly did,” Quinn said. “I think every incident and every situation is different. I said that. It’s in black and white. Looking back, I probably should not have said that because the more you do research on each individual incident, what you read in the newspaper and on the Internet is actually sometimes not accurate.”
Quinn’s stance on Mixon falls more in line with his promise to thoroughly investigate each individual issue. In the end, the team could still determine they aren’t comfortable adding him to the roster.
“I mean, it would be a long conversation,” Quinn said. “Some of the stuff that’s out on him, it’s out there. Everyone can look at the video and see exactly what happened, but what we really don’t know are what were the circumstances around that.”
Regardless of his findings, Quinn said he would seek owner Martha Ford’s approval before taking a player like Mixon.
“Absolutely,” Quinn said.