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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