Being one of the steals of the 2011 NFL Draft would have been enough for the St. Louis Rams when they took Robert Quinn 14th overall, but since then he's made an impression as much for the stories that have come out about him as his talent. There was the agent scandal and the high school brain tumor that loomed large in the immediate aftermath of his pick and complicated the usual NFL Draft grades, and now there's Bryan Burwell's story about Quinn's connection with another athlete, a high schooler who suffered from a malignant brain tumor.
Quinn is one of the strangest players to evaluate in recent memory, and certainly the toughest player to fault for being suspended a year that I can remember. I obviously did not play college football, but it has to be a strange feeling to watch the money pour into your institution while you don't get any of it—to play not because college was one of a number of options you weighed but because what are ostensibly learning institutions have become the NFL's de facto minor leagues. I can blame him for breaking the NCAA's rules, but I can't blame him for thinking the NCAA is a corrupt and frankly creepy institution.
Quinn's story about his relationship with Lavelle Sloan—and, by extension, about his own tumor—is finally vastly more heartening than the scandal is discouraging. Character-wise, four pillars-wise, I'd rather draft a player who shows this kind of humanity with Quinn's regulatory problems than another player with a clean record.