Laremy Tunsil's draft night will go down in infamy.
Minutes before the NFL draft began, a video was posted to Tunsil's Twitter account. It showed Tunsil in a gas mask smoking something, just before he removed the mask to reveal his face.
The tweet was quickly taken down and Tunsil deleted his account, but the damage was done. Attentive eyes quickly posted it to Twitter and YouTube. Tunsil's agent later told Ian Rapaport of NFL Network that his client's account was hacked, but he also confirmed that it was his client in the clip. Tunsil admitted it was him too, after he was drafted by the Miami Dolphins with the 13th pick — far lower than he was expected to go.
"Man, it was a mistake. It happened years ago," Tunsil told Deion Sanders of the NFL Network. "Someone had my Twitter account and that's how it got on there. Things happens for a reason. I'm glad to be in Miami and I'm going to work my butt off."
That wasn't even the end of Tunsil's troubles. Shortly after he was drafted, his Instagram account was apparently hacked. It posted two images that appear to be screen shots of a text message conversation between Tunsil and an assistant athletic director, talking about needing money so his mother's electric bill could be paid. There was no way to verify if the text messages were authentic, but clearly someone was attacking Tunsil via social media hacks. It might also lead to some questions of Ole Miss, where Tunsil went to school.
Then, in an unbelievable turn of events, during his news conference Tunsil seemed to admit that he took money from a coach at Ole Miss. According to Emily Kaplan of SI.com, Tunsil was asked if money was exchanged between him and a coach.
"I have to say yeah," Tunsil said, according to Kaplan and other reporters at the news conference.
Tuntil was then interrupted and ushered off the podium, which you can watch here:
So in one night, Tunsil had a video of him smoking from a bong posted to social media, he slipped out of the top 10 of the draft, an Instagram hacker posted a purported conversation between him and an athletic department official about exchanging money, and then he seemed to admit that he did in fact take money from a coach in college. Wow. This draft story will be tough to top.
Tunsil was projected to possibly be the first pick in the draft as recently as a few weeks ago, prior to trades with the first two picks. It turns out he wasn't even one of the first two offensive linemen selected as the Baltimore Ravens took Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley at No. 6 and the Titans then took Michigan State's Jack Conklin at No. 8.
Tunsil said he did not know that someone had the video and did not find out about it until he reached the green room at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.
Sanders asked Tunsil if his stepfather had posted the video, but Tunstil did not know. Tunsil was sued earlier this week by his stepfather. TMZ reported that Tunsil's stepfather denied he had anything to do with the social media hacks.
According to NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala, the Ravens saw the video — and it had an effect.
Ravens took Tunsil OFF their board after that video, member of organization tells me. OFF.
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) April 29, 2016
ESPN's Jon Gruden later went on a rant blaming social media for Tunsil's fall on draft night. But he also didn't blame any teams that passed up Tunsil.
"This whole social media scene makes me sick," Gruden said. "If you're a young kid, put away your Twitter accounts — if you want to be a pro football player. Somebody is going to hack your accounts, somebody is going to cause some problems. You've got to be a reliable person to stand up here on the stage and be a first-round draft choice.
"That's what's plagued this kid since he's been at Ole Miss. He's been injured, he's been suspended, and he's had a lot of traits that show you why you wouldn't want to draft him. This is embarrassing, I'm sure it hurts him a lot, and if I'm a head coach or GM I'm going someplace else to find a player early in the first round."
Meanwhile, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze came to his defense, telling ESPN that the clip was not recent.
"He doesn't deny it, he owned it," Freeze said. "But certainly it was not recent."
No matter when it happened, the errant tweet ended up costing Tunsil a tumble down the draft and a lot of money.
Judging by last year’s salaries…if Tunsil was supposed to go 3rd, he’s already lost $10M at this point. pic.twitter.com/odukFTpe58
— Eddie Maisonet, III (@edthesportsfan) April 29, 2016
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