by Dillon Meehan
It’s the end of April and just like every year the NFL draft has given us plenty of storylines. This year was different for a few reasons; the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles mortgaged their future by giving up multiple picks to each draft a quarterback with the first and second pick.
Due to the injuries to linebackers Myles Jack and Jaylon Smith, Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil was number one on several analysts’ draft boards. With Jared Goff off to Los Angeles and Carson Wentz in Philly, the Chargers were slotted as the next team to pick. Tunsil seemed to be the obvious choice. San Diego’s offense line was marred by injuries in 2015 and adding Tunsil was common sense. But then his chances of becoming the number three overall pick went up in smoke, literally.
At 7:47 p.m., just 13 minutes before the start of the draft, a video of Tunsil taking a gas mask bong hit was posted on his verified Twitter account. It didn’t make any sense. Why would a player who was guaranteed to be a top five pick post something so stupid?
The Chargers instead drafted Joey Bosa, the top pass rusher in the draft. San Diego was rumored to be locked in on one player, but it is hard to imagine Bosa being their guy scheme-wise.
Then one by one, teams began to draft other players; even Baltimore, who were in need of a tackle, took Ronnie Stanley out of Notre Dame. A report has since been released, saying that Baltimore had taken Tunsil off their board after they saw the video.
Yes, the Baltimore Ravens, the same team that has a statue outside of their stadium of a man who was charged with murder, but then struck a plea deal to obstruction of justice and testified against his two friends. The same team who named Terell Suggs their defensive captain after he allegedly dragged his then-girlfriend by her hair outside of a moving car and threatened to pour bleach on her and her one-year-old child. That team took Tunsil off their draft board.
Two picks later, the Tennessee Titans, who had held the number one pick before trading back with the Rams, traded up. And while Tunsil was on their radar, they decided to draft Jack Conklin, a left tackle out of Michigan State who was given a late-first round grade.
By then it was practically chaos on social media. It is hard to imagine teams being scared by a player recording himself taking a bong hit. While it is dumb, players have done far worst and still were drafted just as high. However, it wasn’t Tunsil’s only red flag. He had a few injury issues and is currently being sued by his stepfather for alleging assaulting him – according to Tunsil, he was protecting his mother who was being abused. To some, that isn’t something to be worried about, but after teams saw what happened to players like Justin Blackmon and Josh Gordon, they have a right to be gun-shy.
Five picks later, the Dolphins finally ended Tunsil’s night from hell and drafted him. Unfortunately, it was only beginning. Immediately after being drafted, his Instagram account posted screenshots of a conversation with an Ole Miss staffer, asking for money not only to pay his rent, but his mother’s utility bill as well. All of this coming just two months after Ole Miss was hit with numerous recruiting violations.
Even then, after having his Twitter and Instagram accounts hacked, his night still wasn’t over. During his post-draft press conference, Tunsil, who for some reason was left alone without his agent, admitted to taking money from Ole Miss. It was shocking. While everyone knows that recruiting is a dirty business, it is left alone and often not investigated by the media. Before reporters could ask more follow-up questions, Tunsil’s interview was cut short and he was escorted out of the press area.
In the social media age it is easy for an athlete or a coach to simply reply with “I got hacked” whenever they do something dumb on social media. It is the go-to excuse and it is never believable. For the first time, this was a valid excuse. Someone had a vendetta against Tunsil and he lost millions of dollars because of it.
Originally, all signs pointed to his stepfather as the culprit. It was the only logical option, at least to the general public. However the Palm Beach Post is reporting that his former financial advisor, who was fired before the draft, is responsible.
The entire situation is still unclear. Tunsil has a toxic family history and it is tough to tell if he will be reprimanded for the video. A source told ESPN that he is likely to be given a clean slate, however the situation is being closely monitored.
It is hard not to root for Tunsil; he did the right thing and admitted he was in the video, adding that it is two years old. Admitting to breaking NCAA rules is confusing yet it shows that he is honest. One would hope that all of these red flags are just a coincidence and that he has a good head on his shoulders, but in the NFL, nothing is certain.