How latest Texans violations point to changing tide in football

Things will work out just fine for Will Fuller. Composite photo by Brandon Strange

Texans wide receiver and soon-to-be free agent Will Fuller got popped for performance enhancing drugs and is suspended for the rest of this season and the first game of the 2021 campaign.

One NFL "insider" – these days there are more media types professing to be insiders than outsiders – said Fuller's suspension "certainly will hinder his value in the open market." Tough luck, Will Fuller.

You've heard about Emmanuel Duron, the Edinburg High School defensive lineman who ran back onto the field and clobbered a referee after being ejected from a game last week against Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Early College High School (does that even fit on a jersey?) Duron was arrested, hauled off to jail, and his team was booted from the Texas state playoffs.

Duron's football career is surely over, no college in its right mind or even remotely concerned about its image would ever let him on its team now. Actions have consequences, Emmanuel Duron.

Seriously? Fuller is coming off his career season in his contract year, 57 catches and eight touchdowns. For the first time in his five years with the Texans, he was injury-free and started every game before his early dismissal. Fuller is a deep-threat, touchdown-making, supremely gifted and super-fast receiver.

Fuller, only 26, will get every dollar he would have gotten if his urine had been clean – and probably more.

Duron's collegiate future depends on how many quarterback sacks he's worth, not past transgressions.

The thing about football is, a player's criminal record, lapses in judgment and poor behavior have little bearing on future earnings. In Fuller's case, the suspension might even be a plus - that's six games he won't get injured.

It was only last year when Cleveland Browns' lineman Myles Garrett tore the helmet off Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and used it as a weapon to whack Rudolph in the head. Garrett was suspended for the rest of the season.

This year Garrett signed a $125 million contract with the Browns, making him one of the highest-paid defensive players in NFL history.

Quarterback Michael Vick went to prison for two years in 2007 after being convicted on dog fighting and animal cruelty charges. You can't get more despicable than that. When he got out of jail, his skills in steep decline, the Eagles signed him to a $100 million contract. After he crapped out in Philadelphia, two more teams, the Jets and Steelers, paid him millions to keep playing.

Someone leaked a video of Ole Miss offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil wearing a gas mask and smoking something from a bong, mind you, on NFL draft day in 2016. This year our Houston Texans signed Tunsil to a $66 million contract extension. The real price of the contract was multiple early-round draft picks. That deal helped put the "former" in former Texans general manager and head coach Bill O'Brien's time in Houston.

Tampa Bay Buccaneer receiver Antonio Brown is fresh off an 8-game suspension for felony burglary with battery charges. Over the years, he's been accused of multiple sexual assaults. He is one of the all-time bad teammates in NFL history. Possibly his biggest crime was appearing on the Masked Singer. With incentives, he could make $2.5 million this season.

Fuller paying the price for his PED suspension? He's closer to being named NFL's Man of the Year. Two years ago, Patriots receiver Julian Edelman was suspended for PEDs and named Super Bowl MVP in the same season. In 2018, 34 players were facing suspension for performance enhancing drugs heading into Week One. Ten players have been suspended for PEDs already this season.

The NFL is hardly a crime-free zone. In just the past five years, 195 NFL players have been arrested or charged with everything from drunk driving, strangulation, felony intimidation, armed robbery, public intoxication, insider trading, discharge of a weapon, illegal drugs and injury to the elderly. If the U.S. prison system had a football team, it would be 5-point favorites over the Houston Texans.

So don't be concerned about Will Fuller getting less money next year because of his PED suspension. The bidding will start around $85 million and reach $100 million. He's at the top of the list of free agent receivers.

As for Emmanuel Duron, the high schooler who physically attacked a referee, no worries there, either. In fact, by the time Duron is ready for the NFL, the Texans may have a first-round draft pick.

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The losing streak continues

Mariners get walk-off win over short-staffed Astros

Alex De Goti had an impressive debut. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

After a brutal homestand capped off by losing five players to the IL for health and safety protocols, the once 5-1 Astros brought their now 6-6 record to T-Mobile park in Seattle to try and right the ship. They'd have to do it with new and young players in the lineup using the "next man up" mentality to get some wins against the first-place Mariners.

Though the young bats would work themselves into a lead most of the night, Houston's bullpen wouldn't be able to hold the Mariners down, with Seattle ultimately walking things off in the ninth.

Final Score: Mariners 6, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 6-7, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Anthony Misiewicz (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Ryne Stanek (0-1)

After a quiet start, Houston gets three in the fifth

After cruising through the Astros through the first four innings, allowing only a walk over that span, Houston was able to put up a big inning against Yusei Kikuchi in the top of the fifth. Carlos Correa notched the first hit of the night, followed by a walk by Taylor Jones to put two on base.

That brought Alex De Goti, making his major-league debut, to the plate and, in his second career at-bat, would get his first hit and RBI, bringing in Correa from second on a single. A second run would come on the same play on a throwing error, then Chaz McCormick made it a three-run inning with an RBI-double, putting Houston out front 3-0.

Urquidy comes an out shy of a quality start

Meanwhile, Jose Urquidy was doing well through five innings. On track for a much-needed quality start, the Mariners would tag him in the bottom of the sixth, getting three-straight hits to bring in two runs to lead off the frame and leaving a runner on second base with no outs.

Urquidy would rebound to get the next two batters on strikeouts, but at 90 pitches and with a left-handed hitter up next, Dusty Baker would bring in lefty Brooks Raley to try and get out of the inning with the one-run lead intact. Raley would do his job, putting Uruidy's line final: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 90 P.

Teams trade two-run seventh innings

The young bats for Houston struck again in the top of the seventh, with Jones and De Goti leading it off with back-to-back singles before Jason Castro would load the bases with a walk. With two outs, Aledmys Diaz would push the lead back to three with a two-RBI single, making it 5-2.

With Raley out after facing his one batter, next out of Houston's bullpen was Bryan Abreu to help maintain Houston's lead. Instead, he would give up two runs on two hits and a walk while getting just two outs before Baker moved on to Blake Taylor, who would get the last out of the seventh with Houston hanging on to a one-run lead at 5-4.

Mariners get the walk-off win

Taylor remained in the game in the bottom of the eighth, and after getting an out, would allow a game-tying solo home run to Evan White before injuring himself trying to field an infield single. Ryne Stanek entered and finished off the eighth, sending the tie game to the ninth.

After Houston came up empty in the top half, Stanek remained in the game in the bottom of the ninth, attempting to force extras. Back-to-back walks ended Stanek's night, with the Astros hoping Ryan Pressly could bail them out. He couldn't, though, giving up the walk-off hit as the Mariners would take the opener, 6-5.

Up Next: Game two of this three-game set will start an hour earlier on Saturday, with first pitch at 8:10 PM Central. Zack Greinke (1-1, 4.08 ERA) will try to rebound from a poor start his last time out for the Astros, while the Mariners will hand the ball to Chris Flexen (1-0, 4.50 ERA).

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