Thursday night was supposed to be the best night of Laremy Tunsil's life, and boy, did he need it. After an up and down year, Tunsil was among the top overall prospects in the 2016 NFL Draft. All he did was show up in anticipation of hearing his name called. What unfolded in the hours was more shocking since discovering Manti Te'o's girlfriend was fake.
First, there was the Twitter video, one that showed Tunsil (who admitted it was him during his post selection interview) smoking from a bong gas mask. It was posted from his verified Twitter account about ten minutes before the draft started. At the time, the question was who posted it: Tunsil himself in some sort of error or lapse in judgement? Or was his account hacked, as his agent claimed? The player's Twitter account was deleted shortly after the draft began.
Regardless of the reasoning, the tweet appeared to cost Tunsil some big bucks. Can you imagine the chaos in war rooms as teams were learning of this during the draft? The Baltimore Ravens, who held the 6th overall pick, took Tunsil completely off of their draft board after seeing the video, according to NFL Network, and one would have to think that it made other teams think twice about selecting him as well. He slid to 13th, where he was eventually taken by the Dolphins, with two offensive tackles taken before him.
So that's it, right? It was a bump in the road that dropped him down in the draft, but it all seemed to be behind them. Then Tunsil learned that his Instagram account also featured some incriminating material. Screen shots of text messages that appear to show Tunsil and a member of the Mississippi coaching staff discussing an exchange of money to help the lineman pay for rent and bills were posted. At this point, it became pretty clear that this was malicious and happening with someone else's hands.
Finally, during his post-draft press conference, Tunsil was asked if there was an exchange of money between him and coaches at Ole Miss. "I would have to say yeah," the 13th overall picked replied, shortly before being escorted off stage. At this point, where was Tunsil's support system? Where was his agent telling him to steer clear of answering questions pertaining to the social media posts? How was he protecting his client? I'm a media member, so I get that reporters have to ask the questions, but where was his support? So many emotions are already attached to draft night for these guys. Can you imagine this being thrown on top of it?
The surprising thing isn't that a college kid smoked weed. It isn't that a kid needed help paying rent or bills. That's the story of many college kids in America. The shocking part about it is how this night unfolded. The sequence of events is mind-blowing, and it's a night that's going to follow Tunsil around for awhile. I'm dismissing the fact that he basically admitted that he and his college institution committed NCAA violations, because, yes, as a college football player and program, there are rules that must be followed. I'm just saying that his problems resemble those of a lot of young men his age in and of themselves.
Trouble seems to have no issue finding Tunsil. He missed the first seven games of the 2015 season, after the NCAA ruled that he had received improper benefits. I'm sure the real story will come out in due time, but it's not unreasonable to think that when he was asked about an exchange of money with coaches on Thursday night, Tunsil may have thought the reporter was referring to his previous violations, for which he had served the penalty.
Then there's the conflict with his stepfather. Last year, Tunsil and his stepfather, Lindsey Miller, filed domestic violence charges against each other. This past Wednesday, Miller filed a lawsuit against Tunsil, saying he was attacked by the lineman and that Tunsil defamed his character. Miller denied posting the video on Twitter, but given the history, it certainly wouldn't be a surprising twist to learn that he did.
And what will this do to Ole Miss? What happens to the program now? If Tunsil received money from his coaches and the NCAA decides to investigate based on Thursday's happenings, are stiff penalties in the Rebels' future?
Social media can be used for a lot of good and productive things, but Thursday we saw another example of it's ugly side. In a matter of hours, two picture attachments and mouse clicks ruined a night that a college football player had worked his whole life towards. It's safe to assume that tonight cost him millions of dollars and attached a lot of unwanted things to his name that won't go away quickly. He was put in a terrible situation, got little help from his agent, and didn't have a clear understanding of how to respond to what was being thrown at him.
Tunsil says he has a chip on his shoulder because of the 12 teams that passed on him in the draft, and he certainly should use it as motivation, but he should be motivated more by the Dolphins' faith in him. As concerned as the rookie is with proving those 12 teams wrong, his primary concern needs to be proving Miami right.