There have frequently been awkward moments when broadcasters discuss players’ off-field behavior, and ESPN’s Brent Musburger definitely delivered one in Monday night’s Sugar Bowl. Musburger started talking about Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who was suspended for the 2014 season after punching a woman in the face and fracturing several of her bones. (Update: Musburger responded on-air to his critics later in the game; check that out here.)
Video of the Mixon incident was released last month, which sparked plenty of condemnations of Mixon and of the Sooners for not releasing him when this first happened. Musburger initially discussed the situation early on in Monday’s Sugar Bowl broadcast, finishing with the awkward line of “Given a second chance by Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, and folks, let’s hope that this young man makes the most of his chance and goes on to have a career in the National Football League.” Here’s the first part of Musburger’s comments:
And the second, where he wishes Mixon a NFL career:
It seems logical for ESPN to at least mention what’s been going on with Mixon, but this was poorly-handled at the very least. Musburger’s focus on Mixon and his second chance rather than the damage he did is problematic, and wishing the best for Mixon here seems inappropriate. ESPN’s approach prompted plenty of Twitter criticism:
Brent Musburger maybe not the dude you want to have delving into the particulars of the Joe Mixon case
— KOBE BUFFALOMEAT (@edsbs) January 3, 2017
ESPN could have used the Joe Mixon story to address a huge problem in sports. Instead Brent Musburger wished him a lengthy NFL career. Yeesh
— Ben Frederickson (@Ben_Fred) January 3, 2017
Not sure you're going to change Musburger at this stage, but I hope a producer is suggesting he not continue with any Mixon redemption talk.
— Tomi Baffoe (@TimBaffoe) January 3, 2017
This isn’t a great look for ESPN, and it’s one that seems likely to create plenty of further backlash. Violence against women is a serious issue, but the broadcast largely glossed over it with little sensitivity here while wishing Mixon further success. Meanwhile, Auburn fans at the game chanted “he hits women” at Mixon:
We’ll see if there’s any further fallout from this.