You want to draft Joe Mixon? Fine. Just be honest about it.

Sugar Bowl Football-05032017-0009
Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon (25) carries in the first half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game against Auburn in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 2, 2017.

Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon is likely to be selected in this year's NFL draft. These are the remarks that I wish the team's general manager would deliver after drafting Mixon, because the remarks would be, if nothing else, honest.

Good afternoon, everyone. As you already know, we picked Joe Mixon yesterday, and as you probably already know, Joe has been involved in some troubling incidents in his life. The most infamous one happened when he was 18, early in his career at the University of Oklahoma. He punched a woman and inflicted severe damage to her face, including a broken jaw. There was a video of it. You've probably seen it. We have, too. We drafted him, anyway. I want to explain why.

Here's why:

We want to win football games. We think Joe can help us do that.

Look, I could stand up here and pay lip service to the idea of an NFL franchise maintaining its self-respect and establishing a standard of decency that it will not compromise. I could say the same kinds of things that Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said back in 2009, when his team signed Michael Vick after Vick had served 18 months in prison for his role in a dogfighting ring.

I remember that day well. Mr. Lurie seemed genuinely torn about the Vick signing, Hamlet-like, because his franchise had just decided to acquire a player who had spent six years torturing and killing dogs then lying about it. But the reason he was torn, or appeared to be, was that he was confused. He believed that, at some level, a pro sports franchise must be an agent of social progress, and he thought the Eagles, as part of that mission, might help Vick get back on his feet. You know, help him become a better person.

There is no such confusion here. We want to win football games. Period. We think Joe can help us do that.

We are not here to save Joe's soul. We are not here to assist him in his overall adjustment to society. We will help him as long as he can help us. If he becomes a distraction for us - don't you love that phrase, by the way, "becomes a distraction"? It's just so versatile - we will cut him. We will not recommend that another team sign him. We will not help him find another job in another line of work.

If we were being altruistic here, if we truly believed in second chances, we would do that. We are not going to do that. We did not draft Joe so that he could get an education, so that he could grow as a human being. There's no sheepskin coming. We drafted him to score touchdowns for us. We think Joe can do that.

This is professional football. This is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and the way you rise to the top of it is not by setting a good example, by holding on to your principles. Do I wish things were different? Of course. But they're not. You rise to the top by winning games, winning division titles, winning Super Bowls. Winning matters. Winning is practically everything.

When Branch Rickey and the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson and broke baseball's color barrier, they made history. It was wonderful. They changed America for the better and forever, and it was admirable that they had that goal. You know what one of their other goals was? Winning. Rickey wanted to win baseball games, National League pennants, the World Series, so he found the toughest, most talented black athlete he could. Virtue wasn't the only thing guiding him. There was a untapped talent pool out there, and he used it to build a dynasty. Winning was part of it. Winning was a big part of it.

Think about the worst-case scenario in this kind of situation. Think about Aaron Hernandez. The Patriots drafted him in 2010. He was a first-round talent, but the Patriots got him in the fourth round. Low risk, high reward, right? There were concerns about Hernandez. Failed drug tests. Fights. Everyone knew the concerns. But the Patriots had handled other players with troubled pasts, and they hadn't won a Super Bowl in five years, and I guarantee you this: If they didn't draft Hernandez, someone else would have. They weren't above rolling the dice. Neither are we. We're just not pretending to be Father Flanagan.

Will there be protests about this decision? Probably. Will some of our fans be angry? Certainly. Will our owner worry about what our corporate sponsors think? Oh, yeah. Guess what? They'll get over it. The controversy will pass.

It's like that character on The West Wing said. Someone asked him about having to explain a U.S. military action to the other countries in the region. Wouldn't those nations be angry? And he said, "They'll like us when we win." To us, this is war. Same goes here.

We think Joe is a talented running back, and we need a talented running back, and we are going to take the chance that he keeps his nose clean and plays well for us. We're willing to take that chance because that's what we're about. We're about winning football games, and we think Joe can help us do that.

Any questions?

msielski@phillynews.com

@MikeSielski

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