The Hangover is a fevered attempt to collect thoughts on the NFL and anything else stuck in the craws of the brain the day after all football has burned out. All opinions belong solely to the author and all facts belong to that evil new war god of unfeeling thought.
By God it's finally here.
The truth is, the sport of football has been held hostage by these dread days for years now. Wins, losses, even championships are all ephemeral, fleeting; hope springs eternal from the promise of the future. It doesn't matter if that future's going to get here or not when there's a whole subset of sports fans that live and die for this very weekend.
The football is irrelevant to the Draft Invasion. This is what matters:
Don't pay mind the tortured screams you hear coming from my soul. Let's talk about Draft Night.
Laremy Tunsil's video was only the tip of this insane iceberg. The world is still processing who might have released the video; his stepfather, currently suing him, seems the likely perpetrator. We'll probably never know for certain unless someone steps forward, given the technology at play.
The video dropping was a close to an October surprise as you can ask for in sports. It was perfectly timed, calculated with sinister intent. There was no mistaking it; by the time everyone got past the initial shock and realized that there was no universe where Tunsil himself would post that, the video's damage was already done.
Everyone knew what was going on and still played their parts. Whoever hacked Tunsil's account put everyone on strings and had them tap-dancing. Considering this whole drama went down in Chicago, it's almost too rich.
The morality squad rushed in to hand-wring again about marijuana. After that, corollaries and logical bridges were built that got around to blaming the victim of cyber-crime and blackmail, which is staggering even for the usually craven draft media and front office personnel. Tunsil's shadowy malefactor would theoretically be a "distraction" to teams who had no problems in the past retaining athletes under investigation for murder and rape.
If there was one bigger loser in the Tunsil saga than Laremy himself, it might be the University of Mississippi football program. As the video leaked out, so did text exchanges that clearly revealed Laremy Tunsil communicating with individuals on the Ole Miss Rebels staff asking for money to pay the rent.
When asked about it, Tunsil got caught in the headlights:
Tunsil just denied an exchange of money between him and his coach. Then, asked again, said it happened. Then interrupted, ushered off stage.— Joan Niesen (@JoanNiesen) April 29, 2016
There will plenty of conversations today, as there always are, about the NCAA's inherent immorality dressed up as amateurism. But for Ole Miss itself, this is really bad, and the worst is not that they paid athletes. That's not a revelation, nor is it unique to them by any stretch.
Where Ole Miss is screwed is that it can't walk this jack. Putting aside its current dysfunctional state, the NCAA has always selectively enforced its punishments dependent upon whether or not the institution in question is one of the important ones or not. This has been a part of the dirty calculus for decades; SMU isn't getting the death penalty if they're Texas. The Rebels aren't a blueblood; they haven't been relevant for decades and they haven't won their conference since 1963.
Maybe the NCAA, the old wolf, is so lost now that it can't possibly put this one down. But Ole Miss got good fast and made enemies along the way. They pulled in top recruiting classes, unthinkable before head coach Hugh Freeze came to town. Those classes don't come without being at the expense of the likes of Alabama and Texas: schools with power, money, authority and most of all, overwhelming ego. Those people don't forget and they hold grudges when they get beat, and they're more than happy to help dig up Mississippi's dirt so the NCAA can bury the Rebels in it.
Honestly I don't think I can write enough about this but it's probably enough to keep it succinct and let the picture speak. Lions general manager Bob Quinn, making his first draft pick as the man in charge of an NFL franchise, was rightfully fitful with his hands Thursday night. Most people reach for a stress ball; Quinn grabbed a baseball bat.
Who is Bob Quinn planning to beat with the baseball bat? pic.twitter.com/Sq9MYz6NcC— Chris Howitt (@MichiganMan_28) April 29, 2016
Quinn was swinging the damn thing around as the pick was made.
Back in 2015, Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy was caught on camera in his huddle, instructing the team how to defend a last fraction-of-a-second play. His urge to "form a ****ing wall" instantly became a meme, a hashtag, a rallying cry and a marketing campaign (sans expletive).
This baseball bat has the potential to be the Lions' answer to that, with hopes that the Quinn era does not end in flames any time soon. There's potential here, Detroit. Use it well.
I wrote previously about Jaylon Smith's injury potentially costing him a good amount of money and early round status, if not his playing career. What I hadn't anticipated was that the same would be looming over UCLA's Myles Jack. His own honesty may have cost him as he revealed that he might need microfracture surgery. Like Smith, Jack has an insurance policy that will pay out depending how far he falls.
But microfracture surgery is perhaps just as grim, if not more, than the possibility of nerve damage. This is not a procedure that is favorable to the football player. While some NBA stars like Amare Stoudemire have returned from microfracture surgery in the past, football players struggle with greater ability to return from such a procedure. Football Outsiders put together some research a few years back and found that very few non-established starters successfully make the return. Jack, albeit thought of as a future starter, is not one right now; and while microfracture surgery has come along far enough that return is possible, no one's figured out the full calculus.
Rumors of character issues will only cause an athlete to drop so far. Rumors of medical procedures that scare the hell out of front offices will drop you further.
Memphis to Mile High
The word out on Friday is that Paxton Lynch was a hot commodity, and apparently the Cowboys were among those who thought they could get their hands on him. Of course, the Cowboys had already blown their top pick on Ezekiel Elliott -- a headline-catching move for sure, but curious in the age where the running back is devalued and, perhaps, so much value comes from that offensive line in Dallas that taking another back in a later round would have been almost as effective.
But Lynch landed with Denver, and went late in the first round. Teams wanting to step back and not fall down the same hole as Los Angeles and Philadelphia did -- trading away a good portion of the near future for the chance to draft a starting quarterback -- found themselves still holding the bag when Denver traded with Seattle and snatched the former Memphis Tiger.
It's an ideal landing spot for Lynch in theory, given his skillset and Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak. It's also the tenor still set for the future of the quarterback position in the NFL: be ready to spend in the first round or wait for the scraps. Perhaps Bob Quinn's stated philosophy on rolling the dice on mid- to late-round quarterbacks every year or two is pretty wise after all.
Perhaps he'll keep swinging that bat.