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The last few weeks have been filled with reports about football players conducting themselves inappropriately. On the national level, the most popular incident involves Ray Rice, running back for the Baltimore Ravens. Here in Oklahoma, Joe Mixon, a high school All-American running back who came to play at the University of Oklahoma, is under similar scrutiny for committing a similar offense – punching a woman.

Rice’s incident became a hot topic again because earlier this week, the video of him punching his then-fiancé-now-wife became available for the public to view. The public’s reaction caused Rice’s initial penalty of a two-game suspension to greatly increase to no longer being a member of the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL, possibly to never play again.

I know the NFL is in hot water because of how the league has handled the Rice incident. As much of a mess that is, I’m not going to directly address the NFL’s problems in this blog.

Instead, here are two aspects I have learned and believe Christians need to consider as a result of both ordeals.

  1. Everybody is vulnerable

There can be no justification for what these men have done to these women. At the same time, what I have realized is both Rice and Mixon were considered fine, upstanding men before they committed these horrible acts.

Rice has been a spokesperson for different NFL charities. He was considered a role model for young people. Two years ago, he hosted a new initiative in his hometown of New Rochelle, N.Y. called “A Ray of Hope: A Pro-Kindness, Anti-Bullying, Teen Prevention Outreach.”

One of Mixon’s high school coaches said, “He’s not like that,” claiming hitting a woman is beyond something Mixon would do.

They had spotless reputations. Before these occurrences, neither one committed an illegal act, from what can be told. I don’t claim to know everything about these men, but before these incidences, they were wearing proverbial white hats.

All it takes is one situation to ruin a reputation. For them, it took losing their temper and committing an atrocious deed. Neither appear premeditated. From what the evidence has revealed, Rice was arguing with his wife; Mixon was confronted by a co-ed. With a quick and hopefully regrettable reaction by both men, their hats turned black.

So what does this mean? But for the grace of God, there go I. Taking stock of certain thoughts I have had over my lifetime, there is no telling what heinous crimes I may have committed had my thoughts come to fruition.

  1. Pray don’t pounce

All those involved should be blanketed with prayer. This includes Mr. and Mrs. Rice and their family. This includes Joe Mixon and the young lady he hit.

I pray for reconciliation in both cases. “Reconciliation” is one of my favorite words. Another one of my favorites is “restoration.” Would you like to see the Gospel in action? Reconciliation and restoration occurring in these extremely too popular stories could be snapshots of what the Gospel can do.

The Rices appear to want to reconcile and move on with their lives. The sooner they are out of the limelight and surrounded by a good support group, especially Christian mentors, the better the chance it could happen.

For Joe Mixon, I’m glad to hear the reports of him still enrolled at OU. I also hope he can follow a similar path of Ryan Broyles, former OU standout, who also had a checkered beginning in college.

I would not compare Broyles’ crime of stealing to what Mixon did, but Broyles did clear his reputation. And from what I have been told, though I don’t have concreate evidence, former OU quarterback Landry Jones led Broyles to Christ and helped disciple him.

I believe successful endings can happen for Rice and Mixon. Praying for both is a benefit, and pouncing on them every time they are “watering hole” topics is a detriment.

So how are your actions helping the cause?