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Browns ownership won't close door on drafting Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon

PHOENIX -- A second chance matters, so Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam will support the decisions of their football people if they feel a player is deserving.

That insight came to light at the NFL's annual spring meetings Monday when Dee Haslam said Joe Mixon's past would not preclude the Oklahoma running back from joining the Browns. In 2014, Mixon punched a woman at a bar and was suspended for his freshman year by the Sooners. He played in 2015 and '16.

"I really admire people who work hard and turn their life around," Dee Haslam said. "I think there's a lot to be said for that. I don't know much about him particularly. Again, that would be a decision by the football personnel. Do I think things in life preclude you from having a second chance? I don't.

"I think if people are going to turn their life around, that's pretty admirable."

Mixon's attorneys released video of the incident in December. It showed Mixon throwing the punch that broke four bones in the woman's face. Mixon was charged with misdemeanor assault and accepted a plea deal with one year of probation, counseling and 100 hours of community service. The Sooners also suspended him.
 In the two seasons he played, he ran for 2,027 yards and scored 17 touchdowns.

Dee Haslam said it is her understanding Mixon has done all he could since the incident to atone and, in her words, "turn his life around."

"I think you have to look at every situation differently," she said. "I really do. I am not intimately familiar with everything that happened in that case, and I don't want to speak about it specifically because I really don't know that much. But I do know that there are times when you have to look at the person and what they've been able to do turning their life around."

Mixon has been projected as a first-round talent who may go in the second or third round because of the assault. The Browns have Isaiah Crowell on the roster, and like both.

The Haslams have not been afraid to state they will take a chance on players with off-field issues. They stood by quarterback Johnny Manziel until they couldn't anymore, and Jimmy Haslam signed off on signing Ray Rice after the running back missed a year following the release of video that showed him hitting his wife in an elevator. But the team's football people did not believe in signing Rice.

"We hope the best for every player, and when they have an incident, they turn their life around," Dee Haslam said. "It's good news. We've had times where that hasn't been good news."

The Browns are not the only team open to Mixon. He is one of the 30 players the Denver Broncos have had or will have in for private visits.

“I think it’s important for us to do our homework,” the Broncos GM John Elway said on the team web site. “He’s a tremendous football player and has proven that at Oklahoma, but I think that’s what your 30 visits are for, is to find out about each different player and get as much homework done on him as you can.”