Biography of a Jet: Marcus Dixon

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 04: Marcus Dixon #94 of the New York Jets celebrates the Jets 34-19 over the Washington Redskins at FedExField on December 4, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

I'm not sure if there will ever be such an interesting background story ever covered again here relative to Marcus Dixon's. Throughout his tumultuous life Dixon has risen from tragic origins to a scholar and athlete, only to see his life turned upside down by accusations and later convictions on charges of sexual assault.

Marcus Dewayne Dixon was born on September 16, 1984 in Rome, Georgia to parents Craig Hawkins and mother Michelle a.k.a. Glenda Loyal, who is alleged to be a drug addicted prostitute who simply vanished from her sons life at a very young age, while Hawkins supposedly called his son a mistake. Dixon lived with his adoptive grandparents until the age of 12 when a basketball coach of his by the name of Ken Jones and his wife, Peri, legally adopted Marcus. Dixon calls the couple his mom and dad to this day. Ken and Peri are white and they recount stories of how difficult it was raising a child of a different race in Georgia.

In spite of his difficult upbringing, Marcus Dixon excelled in school and achieved a grade point average of 3.96 in addition to becoming an all state football player. He was offered countless full scholarships to many prominent football schools but ultimately chose Vanderbilt on a full scholarship because he considered it to be a superior academic school. It was then, at the age of 18, that Dixon's life would change forever.

Join us after the jump. Please be advised that although I do not go into graphic details this article does contain topics of a sensitive (and at times controversial) nature.

When Dixon was 18 he was accused of sexually assaulting a white 15 year old girl who was working in some capacity as a custodian in an isolated school trailer used for auxiliary class instruction on their school campus. The girl alleged that Dixon held her arms down and forcibly raped her. Dixon's supporters and his adoptive parents allege that it was a romantic fling between teenagers done in an isolated area to avoid detection by the girls father, who they also allege repeatedly used profane racially charged statements in his pursuing charges against Dixon.Dixon faced several felony and misdemeanor charges of a sexual nature.

At the trial, the girl claimed the two had never known each other prior to the incident and that she had only seen him in passing, however two witnesses claimed that she spoke of previously briefly dating Dixon and speaking positively of his physical build, and the defense claimed that it was unlikely the girl did not know Dixon, a well known athlete in a small school. Prosecution relied mostly on the girls statements, and two prior incidents Dixon was allegedly involved in, one a 10 day suspension for exposing himself on campus, and the other a 2002 accusation that he forcibly touched the privates of a girl that was not prosecuted.

The jury would vote to acquit Dixon on charges of rape, assault and battery, and false imprisonment. At least two of the jurors later stated their reasoning as due to lack of evidence of a physical struggle, and some witness statements. Because of the age of the accuser, the jury convicted Dixon of felony aggravated child molestation and misdemeanor statutory rape; the former charge carrying a mandatory sentence in the state of Georgia of 10 years in prison. And with that Dixon's scholarship was rescinded and he was sentenced to a lengthy prison term.

The case would soon receive a great deal of attention from the media, and Bryant Gumbel would release a story featuring Dixon and his conviction on the HBO show, Real Sports. Gumbel claims this was by far the most rewarding story he ever did and is proud of it influencing Dixon's case being reviewed. The story revisited claims by both sides of the story, but it also drew a great deal of attention to Dixon's cause to have his conviction overturned. Ultimately, an attorney would see the piece and take on Dixon's case pro bono, and the Georgia State Supreme Court would overturn the felony conviction of molestation, while allowing the statutory rape charge to stand. To this day Dixon has to declare his conviction when filling out applications and has spoken of difficulties he faces relating to the stigma of being convicted of a sex crime.

Since the case was resolved, both Dixon and his accuser appeared on an episode of Oprah to explain their sides of the story. The girl pursued a 5 million dollar damages case against the school system for not doing more to prevent the incident, alleging a history of sexually related incidents or accusations against Dixon on the campus. Dixon himself would do an eight year update story on Real Sports, detailing his life since the case. Dixon would later form a bond with now-former Jet Plaxico Burress over their mutual experience in the prison system.

After 15 months in prison Dixon was freed, and he accepted a football scholarship to Hampton University. After a solid college career at smaller program, Dixon entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent Defensive End in 2008, signing a three year contract with the Dallas Cowboys in April of that year. Dixon saw no playing time with the Cowboys and was released on September 4th 2010. The Jets signed Dixon off of waivers the next day. In his first season, Dixon accumulated four tackles and one sack in three games. The Jets would extend Dixon by one year in early 2011. The next season, Dixon would pull down 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks with a single pass defense in 16 games. In early 2012, GGN users voted heavily in favor of retaining Dixon, and site chief John B. praised Dixon as deeply underrated.

After rising and falling and rising yet again, Marcus Dixon looks forward to his future in the NFL. Dixon has lived an against-all-odds life, and it would not be surprising at all to yours truly to see Dixon beat the odds again and have a breakout career in the NFL. I can't think of a more fitting place for a never say die football player than the defensive line of the New York Jets. I just hope that no matter what his past is or how much truth there was to accusations made against him as a teenager, Marcus Dixon makes the most of his second chance.

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