Brent Musburger advocated for second chances when talking about Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon during the Sugar Bowl on Monday night. Later in the game, he used the ESPN broadcast to give himself a second chance regarding his statement.
Musburger brushed past the incident that got Mixon suspended last season, instead wishing him well with his second chance at playing fooball. Here are his initial comments:
Graphic video of the violent incident was released last month, re-igniting criticism of Mixon and forcing him to issue another apology for the incident. Musburger’s broaching of the subject in the first quarter, however, was focused squarely on how he will do in the pros. Here’s what Musburger said:
It was troubling. Very troubling to see. We talked to the coaches and they all swear that the young man is doing fine. Like I said, Oklahoma thought he might transfer but he sat out the suspension, reinstated, and folks he’s just… he’s one of the best.
Let’s hope, given a second chance by Bob Stoops and Oklahoma. Let’s hope this young man makes the most of his chance and goes on to have a career in the national football league.
Many took to Twitter to criticize the broadcaster for failing to mention the victim in Mixon’s violent incident, merely saying the perpetrator of a violent act was “fine” and wishing him the attacker well in his professional future. It was also unsettling to hear a grown man worry about the health of a major college football program instead of the health and safety of a woman violently attacked by a running back. Here’s one such criticism:
Either Musburger checked Twitter or someone got in his ear, because here’s what he said later in the third quarter:
Apparently some people were very upset when I wished this young man well at the next level. Let me make something perfectly clear: what he did with that young lady was brutal, uncalled for—he’s apologized. He was tearful. He got a second chance.
He got a second chance. From Bob Stoops. I happen to pull for people with second chances. Let me make it absolutely clear: I hope he has a wonderful career and he teaches people with that brutal, violent video. OK?
Second down and nine.
Musburger may feel like he’s being treated unfairly, but his comments on the broadcast are undoubtedly the largest public forum given to discussing the incredibly violent incident. Not only failing to expressing sympathy for the victim, but to all but ignore her in favor of Mixon’s professional aspirations, is gross and irresponsible.
Between those comments there was Mixon asking for the crowd to get louder at the half, presumably in response to Auburn fans chanting “he hits women.”
It’s impossible to tell why Mixon is asking for more noise here, but either way it’s not a great look. Musburger himself frames the standout running back as “apologetic” and “tearful” about the incident that nearly derailed his football career. If he is truly both of those things, it’s best for him to greet criticism from an opposing fanbase with silence.
It’s good Musburger readdressed his comments again in the third quarter, but it doesn’t save him from becoming yet another broadcaster more concerned with the humanity of the athletes they cover than the people hurt by sports stars.
Sports are many things, but they are not a means of redemption for the personal and legal transgressions committed by those that play. The sooner we stop framing games as such, the better.