Thursday was a story of two young first-round draft choices in St. Louis, one who made a mistake and now must face the music and redeem himself, and another who matured and did redeem himself in his franchise’s eyes, and saw it pay off in the form of a huge contract.
Yesterday morning, we learned that 2011 Rams first-rounder Robert Quinn had been arrested in early July on charges of driving while intoxicated and several other charges. While he was a sophomore player at North Carolina, Quinn was immature enough to accept two black diamond watches and a set of earrings from an agent in 2010. His acceptance of that $5,600 worth of jewelry was found out by the NCAA, and he was ruled permanently ineligible. This is a guy who could have been the No. 1 overall choice in the NFL draft, and he gave that up for gifts of jewelry. Clearly, Quinn didn’t know the difference between right and wrong.
After a rookie season that saw Quinn amass four of his five sacks in the second half of the season, Jeff Fisher took over as Rams head coach. Fisher’s former defensive backs coach with the Titans, Everett Withers, was Quinn’s defensive coordinator in college, and told Fisher that Quinn could be a special player. He had a good offseason, and is being counted on to provide big-time pass rush from the right edge. But after his arrest earlier this month, we still don’t know if Quinn knows the difference between right and wrong. I’m nearly as alarmed that he didn’t have insurance. To buy a vehicle, you have to have a car insured to drive it off the lot. As the Rams try to wrestle with Janoris Jenkins’ agent so that he can keep a handle on his finances, Quinn apparently needs help in keeping up with his bills, too.
Is this the end for Quinn? Not by a longshot. David Freese got a DWI and is now one of the biggest stars in St. Louis. He solved his problems and has redeemed himself, both off and on the field.
Quinn will be given every opportunity to redeem himself, to mature. But to start that process, he must learn something that most people learn by the age of nine or ten: the difference between what is right and what is wrong.
While Quinn took a step backward on Thursday, T.J. Oshie of the Blues felt the good fortune of maturity and redemption when he signed a five-year contract worth over $20 million. The Blues could have signed Oshie last offseason, but they had legitimate concerns about his maturity.
On March 28, 2011, Oshie didn’t show up for practice. There had been questions about the former first rounder’s maturity and commitment leading up to that point, including incidents with alcohol and a pair of arrests while he was in college at North Dakota. But when he went AWOL, the Blues had no choice but to suspend him for two games.
Apparently Oshie took his immaturity to heart. Last season, he was a model citizen, showed up on time, hustled, and stayed out of trouble. If he would have had one more misstep, it’s likely the Blues wouldn’t have had any interest in giving him a long-term contract.
After the arrests in college and several incidents in the NHL, Oshie was at a crossroads. He grew up, matured and made himself a lot of money. He apparently reached an understanding of the difference between right and wrong, and now he’ll make more than $4 million a year.
It’s difficult for many young athletes to grasp the concept of maturity. Sometimes money, fame and entitlement cause those players to think they’re invincible, that they can get away with anything. Of course, that’s far from the case. Right now, we have to think that Robert Quinn hasn’t grown up. Perhaps his arrest will serve as a wake-up call and nudge him toward adulthood. And judging by the actions of the people who know Oshie best, his employers with the Blues, we have to think he’s taken that step and matured significantly in the last 16 months.