If you follow NFL football, you’ve no doubt heard about the tragic deaths of three devoted football fans following a night of partying at a friend’s house, in the aftermath of their beloved team’s victory in the playoffs. They were found laying in the back yard of the host’s rented home, apparently frozen.

What caused their death? It hasn’t yet been established. As with the death of actor Matthew Perry, we may have to wait a while until the medical examiner issues a completed report.

However, the required tox screen appears to have reached the local police, and is being reported to suggest the three victims had been using some combination of cocaine and fentanyl — “recreationally,” as they like to call it.

I doubt that would surprise anyone in this day and age.

In the absence of much factual information, wild theories have proliferated. One is that the host, himself a research scientist, supplied the drugs. Unverified, but since he promptly checked himself into a rehab program for help with his own addictions, people paid attention.

The story did remind me of an incident early in my career, involving a different scientist who reported having made the drugs he abused in his own lab at the giant research facility across the street. In that case, the drug was chloral hydrate, a sedative that’s been around since the 1800’s, best known as the key ingredient (along with rum) in the fabled Mickey Finn knockout drink. At the time, that was used to shanghai reluctant sailors on board ships bound for the Orient.

My detox patient happily explained to me that he’d developed his preference for knockout drops many years ago, while in training. As the drug disappeared from common use, however, he was forced to cast around for alternatives. He could easily have switched to another sedative, Valium or one of the others, but instead he’d hit on  the idea of making his own – in his own lab, with his employer’s equipment, and materials he was able to obtain legally.

I wondered if something like that could be at work in the recent case. Then one of the host’s relatives showed up to inform the media that his cousin was informally known around town as “The Chemist.” That didn’t do much to squelch the rumors.

I suppose that in another couple weeks we’ll get a look at the M.E.’s findings, bat those around in the media for a while, hopefully come to some sort of resolution. Maybe it’ll be as simple as an accidental overdose on fentanyl, by a group of fans in search of a good time.

Or maybe not.