What's that old saying, if you don't know your history, you're doomed to repeat it? Robert Quinn, one of the emerging stars of the most highly counted-on unit of the Rams in 2012, went out and got arrested on a DUI charge. Reports from KSDK.com in St. Louis have the 2011 first round pick's arrest date as July 10th in Florissant MO.
In case you were wondering, he banked a $5.36 million signing bonus and $375,000 from the Rams in 2011. Yes, he should have called a cab.
We don't know what Mr. Quinn was thinking. He'll come out and tell us that he's sorry he embarrssed the team and his family. He'll tell us that he understands he made a mistake. He'll promise us that he's learned his lesson and this won't happen again. His agent will encourage us to give his client a break since he's young, and that they're both focused on helping the Rams win this year.
In any other market, this is probably sufficient. Jason Kidd's DUI was embarassing, but the media has moved on. Knick fans will forget about his arrest as long as he's still got some hoop left. They'll only bring it up if they need a punny backpage tabloid headline. Jason Kidd is really lucky to be alive today, but everyone will hope he's smarter. This will be a small piece of the Jason Kidd story in 2012.
Not in St. Louis, though.
Mr. Quinn has not only allegedly broken the law, but ripped the scab off the most painful episode in the St. Louis Rams' history.
Rams standout defensive lineman Lenoard Little left a birthday party drunk. He crashed into an innocent lady named Susan Gutweiler and the impact killed her. When he blew a .19 (2x the legal limit in MO) he was arrested for manslaughter. And after a painfully public trial, Little was sentenced to 4 years of probation and 1000 hours of community service.
To his credit, Little was repentant about the situation. And for many years he did hard work to atone for his mistake. But when he was arrested again in 2004 for going 78 in a 55MPH zone and failed multiple roadside sobriety checks, he was charged with DUI again. He wasn't convicted, though. And once again sentenced to probation, this time for 2 years.
Robert Quinn is a young man who has made a stupid mistake. He may (or may not) be learning his lesson. Thankfully everyone has escaped this situation with everything except the fine still intact. Unfortunately he plays the same position as Leonard Little and has now reopened the conversation about what is just punishment for driving legally drunk.
Roger Goodell wasn't the NFL Commissioner in 1998 or 2004. Back then it was easier to sweep player issues under the rug and get everyone to refocus on the football at hand. The Ray Lewises and Lawrence Phillips of the league were treated as guys with an edge who sometimes stepped over it. Ultimately, though, it was up to that player and the team to get that guy back on track (Lewis) or out of the league (Phillips). The NFL wasn't there to hand down discipline.
Goodell can't punish Quinn any harder because it would appease the people in St. Louis who believe that he got off light. Though many would like to see him make an example of Quinn. Instead, whatever punishment is meted out will be criticized and labeled as another instance of a Rams player getting away easier because he's a professional athlete.
Yes, it's going to be a shit-show of hand-wringing and proselytizing.
Bringing us to the more pertinent point for Rams fans: there is no way this isn't going to be a huge distraction for the Rams. Training camp starts in a week and the Jeff Fisher is here and the Rams are looking to improve narratives have been beat into the ground. Why not a little piece about Quinn's DUI and the history of alcohol and St. Louis sports teams? Josh Hancock. Let's bring his death back into the limelight while we're at it.
This is exactly the wrong time for any of this to happen. A team in desperate need of a fresh start doesn't need a sordid past to be on its mind.
Robert Quinn has done his team a disservice by allegedly driving drunk. But it's nothing in comparison to the painfully memories he's helped to spark.