For a part of the NFL calendar that is supposed to be a low key burn-in period, with guys just casually going about their business to prepare for the upcoming season, the Houston Texans have had their fair share of drama during organized team activities (OTA's) so far in 2017.
There is the football drama, the daily questions about which quarterback threw well and which one threw poorly, and whether or not Deshaun Watson has learned the whole playbook yet. There is the contractual drama, the daily absence of left tackle Duane Brown over a financial dispute regarding his current deal. However, the drama unleashed on Wednesday was of a different, far more disturbing variety.
As first reported by the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday, Texans wide receiver Keith Mumphery has been expelled from graduate studies at Michigan State and banned from the campus until December 31, 2018. The expulsion actually took place back in June 2016, but was just made public in the Free Press report on Wednesday after they obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act.
Mumphery's expulsion actually goes back to an incident that took place on March 17, 2015, in which he was accused of sexual assault by a female MSU student in her dorm room. The two had met on Tinder a few months earlier, and the police report from the incident contains conflicting accounts on who initiated the sexual activity and whether or not it was consensual.
The woman reported the incident to MSU police later that night, and the next day Mumphery worked out for several pro teams at MSU's football facility. Mumphery was eventually taken by the Texans in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft on May 2, 2015.
MSU police handed the case over to the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office in late March, and on August 24, 2015, the office announced it would file charges against Mumphery, stating that prosecutors did not have enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty, noting the alleged victim had stopped cooperating with the probe.
However, while prosecutors did not press charges, Michigan State's Title IX office saw enough evidence to expel Mumphery and ban him from campus. The burden of proof for expulsion via Title IX is lower than the threshold for prosecuting in a court of law. While criminal court requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, Title IX administration only requires there to be a "greater than 50 percent belief" that the perpetrator is guilty. Mumphery had competed his undergraduate degree in May 2014, but was working on his graduate studies when he was notified of the expulsion in a letter sent via email on June 7, 2016.
Mumphery was not at Texans practice on Wednesday, and, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, the team just learned of the entire saga in the last day and, as of Wednesday afternoon, they were "gathering information." Also, as of Wednesday afternoon, Mumphery was still on the Texans roster.
There so many odd, disturbing things about this story, beyond the nature of the alleged offenses...
1. The timeline of the story is fairly remarkable. First, it is undeniable that Mumphery was, at the very least, having sex the night before his pro day, which is not exactly the picture of focus, but whatever. Second, Mumphery was expelled from school right around this time last year (June 2016), which means he's had the Title IX investigation and the aftermath hanging over him throughout his first two seasons in the NFL. What did that have to be like going to work every day during your first training camp in 2015, not knowing if he would face charges? And how about the whole next year while the Title IX investigation was ongoing? Guilty or innocent, that's a lot to be carrying around while you're trying to survive in the NFL.
2. The big question — how in the hell are we just finding out about all of this now? This case has been documented in some form for more than two years! More to the point, how are THE TEXANS just finding out about all of this now? There was supposedly a police report generated in March 2015 that detailed the accounts of both Mumphery and the victim, and that report was handed over to the county prosecutor in late March 2015, a full month before the Texans drafted Mumphery. Is it out of line to say that there is either something wrong with the Texans background checking process (unlikely, considering they do vetting on hundreds of prospects every year) or something wrong with the police department's chain of publicly documenting this case? In this day and age, it's incredible this story stayed buried for two years.
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3. Addressing the one other scenario not outlined above — I think there is a zero percent chance that the Texans knew about this incident and STILL drafted Mumphery in 2015. Less than zero percent. First, it was a mild surprise that Mumphery was even drafted at all, and it was widely considered the Texans burned a pick on a player no one else was pondering selecting at that point. Thus, given the team's high standard for personal conduct, there's no way they knowingly use a pick on a marginal player with an open sexual assault investigation. No chance.
4. So what happens with Mumphery now? The Texans say they are "gathering information," and he was not at practice yesterday. Working against Mumphery, most certainly, is his current status on the roster. He is, at best, the fifth wide receiver on a team that struggles passing the football. For a fifth round pick with no discernible "plus" characteristic, he has been given plenty of chances, both in the offense and in the return game, and he hasn't really made an impact (24 catches, 198 yards, no touchdowns in two seasons).
Purely guessing, but my hunch is that Keith Mumphery has punched his ticket out of Houston.
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