After 872 days, Joe Mixon on Friday finally broke his silence.
During a 27-minute press conference at the University of Oklahoma’s team meeting room on the Norman campus, Mixon said he’s deeply sorry to Amelia Molitor for punching her and breaking four bones in her face back on July 25, 2014.
Speaking about how he let down his family and later about how his teammates have supported him, Mixon had to fight back tears.
He also said it’s “never, ever OK to retaliate and hit a woman the way I did.” He said said he wants to be an advocate who stands up in opposition to violence against women. He said he’s not focused on the impending decision about whether to leave school early for a shot at the National Football League or returning for a shot at the national championship, but rather on the Sooners’ Jan. 2 Sugar Bowl game against Auburn.
He says he wishes that night had never happened.
“I can only apologize to the people that it affected and I’m sorry for what happened that night,” Mixon said. “Like I said, if I could do it all over again, I would. I wouldn’t be there. I’d have left. And like I said, to Ms. Molitor, I apologize and I’m asking for your forgiveness.”
Mixon said his silence for the last 29 months wasn’t his idea. He said he actually wanted to talk about it previously and express his remorse, but his legal team advised to “keep my mouth closed.” Last year’s mandatory media session at the Orange Bowl, during which he sat for an hour and deflected almost everything that wasn’t directly connected to the game itself, “sucked” and he wished he could say more but was told by his attorneys to avoid the subject.
“I actually took the initiative to go to them and tell them, like, you know, (say), ‘There’s got to be a day where I make my apology,’ ” he said. “It’s not that I was hiding nothing. I’d been wanting to say something, but at the end of the day, I was just doing what I was asked.”
Head coach Bob Stoops on Wednesday said, among other things, that he had told Mixon if he wanted to leave, he would get a full and unconditional release, but Mixon chose to remain at OU. Mixon was asked Friday if he ever second-guessed that decision.
“Um, honestly, I did,” Mixon said. “But at the end of the day, I wasn’t gonna run from what happened. I thought it was only right to stick by coach Stoops because when he came to my parents’ house, he talked to me, he was gonna have me in his corner. … He did that to everybody. You make a commitment, you stick with it. Like I said, I’m grateful for the second chance coach Stoops gave me and I’m trying to do everything I can to be the best person I am and the best teammate I am.”
Mixon’s supporters and many OU football fans have argued in his defense for the last 2 ½ years, claiming some measure of self-defense and equal treatment. That chorus has grown particularly loud since the release last Friday of the surveillance video recorded that night at Pickleman’s Gourmet Restaurant.
But a week later, Mixon destroyed those arguments.
“Honestly, it really don’t matter what she did,” he said. “It’s all on me the reason why we’re in this position right now. I take full responsibility of what happened that night. It’s never OK to hit a woman. Never. I will preach to anybody. It’s never OK. Hopefully to people around the world will learn from my mistake.
“There’s no way I should have ever retaliated like that.”
This stigma will forever be branded on Mixon, but can he perhaps transform himself, like former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has, from a villain who viciously punched a woman to someone who speaks on behalf domestic violence and violence against women?
“Oh yeah, I’m definitely willing to do that,” he said. “I think I’ve got an opportunity to do that and I’m gonna seize it, seize the moment, and do whatever I can to be the bigger person, be the man that I should be, and be that influence for young kids that’s lost out there, and, you know, really, in certain situations (like) I was in, hopefully I can teach them, you know, the next time how to react a certain type of way and, you know, basically teach them. But I would definitely be willing to talk to those types of groups.”
Mixon said “when the time is right,” he’ll involve himself in that cause.
Mixon also said he “definitely” wishes the video had come out sooner and said the punch and many of the events over the last 2 ½ years “haunts me to this day.”
He said he continues to seek and benefit from counseling, and “from what they say, I’ve done a good job of it.”
Much of the 100 hours of community serve to which he was sentenced was spent on talking to youth groups about what he did.
He also was asked about the incident this fall that led to his one-game suspension: he received a parking ticket, but escalated things by tearing up the ticket and berating the parking attendant. The official report even says he threatened her with his car.
“First off, I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have ripped the ticket and thrown it on the ground. That’s on me. I apologize to the woman that I affected right there,” he said.
“I should have took the ticket and smiled and just said ‘Thank you’ and walked away.”
But Friday was about Mixon’s long-awaited apology to Molitor.
“I can’t express enough how sorry I am,” he said. “… I’m hoping one day I can, you know, apologize to her face to face and ask her for (her) forgiveness.”
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard on The Franchise Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. every weekday with co-host Lauren Rew and most mornings on The Franchise in Oklahoma City. Listen on fm107.9, am1270 on the 107.7 Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page.