Seven years ago, Mike Maccagnan and his wife lived across the street from a woman -- a friend -- who was murdered by her husband on the night he was supposed to sign their divorce papers. It happened on a quiet street in Houston, where Maccagnan worked as one of the Texans' top scouts. The tragedy had such a profound effect on Betty Maccagnan that she got involved in an organization that raises awareness about domestic violence.
On Monday, Mike Maccagnan alluded to the 2010 horror when asked about Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who assaulted a woman nearly three years ago in a sandwich shop near the OU campus. For competitive reasons, the New York Jets' general manager declined to say whether Mixon has been removed from their draft board, but he left no doubt about his feelings on violence.
"There are some things that are extremely egregious, which I personally have a very hard time condoning," Maccagnan said at his pre-draft news conference. "Violence, in particular, that is a very serious thing to me. For me and my wife, we had a personal experience with that."
Maccagnan said he wasn't referring specifically to Mixon's situation.
"I would say simply we don't take it lightly," he said. "I have no problem whatsoever taking players off the board from that standpoint. I'd rather we focus on players that are good players and ideally good people and good members of our society."
It's not hard to read between the lines: The Jets have no interest in drafting Mixon, a first-round talent who could be picked in the second round or later.
Mixon accepted a plea deal and was suspended from the team his freshman season with the Sooners. Surveillance video of the altercation, which showed Mixon throwing the punch that broke four bones in the woman's face, was released by Mixon's attorneys last December, more than two years after the incident. Last week, Mixon and the woman, Amelia Molitor, reached a civil settlement.
Maccagnan has signed character risks in the past, including current tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who was cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last September after a DUI arrest. He's still a member of the Jets even though he faces a two-game suspension for violating the league's personal-conduct policy.
Some players get second chances, some don't. Every player with a character issue gets vetted by the team, according to the GM. Maccagnan often talks about the risk-reward factor when procuring talent. Sometimes, it's just not worth it.
"Part of this is you're investing in people," he said. "Part of investing in people is knowing these guys are going to be a good part of your team, locker room and, ideally, good members of the community. You want them to reflect positively on your team and organization in that aspect. Personal character is very important to me."