In case you missed it Thursday night because you were watching the Celtics or Red Sox, or just observing the Patriots fans’ boycott of the NFL draft and watching “Big Bang Theory” instead, a subplot unfolded that was easily the most bizarre I’ve ever witnessed in the lifetime wasted watching the draft.
As Ryan Hannable reported on WEEI.com’s It Is What It Is blog earlier, 10 minutes before the draft began, the video above popped up on the Twitter account of Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil. Before we go any further I should point out that Tunsil is not your garden variety first-round prospect. As of a few weeks ago, before Tennessee traded out of the top spot, he was the presumptive No. 1 overall first pick. Most draft sites listed him as the best player in the draft at any position. In one of my draft previews I wrote of Tunsil, “He’s the best tackle prospect since Joe Thomas came out in 2007. Which is to say much better selection than your Brandon Scherffs, Ereck Flowers, Greg Robinsons or Luke Joeckels.” So to have every personnel staff in the NFL watching him do the old Ground Control to Major Tom on the most important night of his life was just surreal.
Ian Rappoport kept coming on NFL Network with reports of Tunsil’s agent frantically working the phone to assure everyone his client is a good kid. They played the “account was hacked” card. We heard the video is five years old, which would make him 16 when it was taken. As the round went on, more and more teams treated the supposed best prospect of 2016 like a piece of unexploded ordinance before the Dolphins finally tossed him a lifeline at the 13th spot.
Naturally, the plot has thickened. It’s long been public knowledge that Tunsil, like dozens of kids in Lifetime Original Movies before him, has had problems with his stepfather, Lindsey Miller. He got in a fight with the guy last year, and both were charged with domestic violence against each other. Tunsil’s side of the story was that he was protecting his mother. Miller’s side of the story was to expose his stepson for taking improper benefits, which led to Tunsil being suspended for the first seven games of last season. Miller also filed a defamation suit against Tunsil … two days before the draft. It doesn’t take Batman to identify the likely criminal mastermind behind the video is Miller.
Miller, for his part, denies the allegation with the airtight alibi, “I don’t know nothing about no video. I’m not even watching the draft. … I was a Red Cross volunteer of the year. I would never do anything like this.” Ordinarily, I’d say being a Red Cross volunteer of the year would exonerate you from any wrongdoing ever. But Lindsey Miller checks every suspect box from means to motive to opportunity, so I’m pointing all pointable parts at him.
But no matter what you believe happened, there’s no denying this a great story. Add to the fact Tunsil has outed his old school for giving him cash payouts, and you realize this kid is going to be endlessly entertaining. Welcome to the NFL, Laremy Tunsil. I look forward to the dozens of blogs and hours of radio you’ll provide.
P.S. It’s a sad commentary, but Tunsil would have gone to the Ravens with the sixth pick and made millions more dollars if five years ago he’d hit his girlfriend instead of a bong.
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