Bong video surfaces on Laremy Tunsil’s Twitter minutes before NFL Draft (UPDATES)
Top NFL Draft prospect Laremy Tunsil became the story of the night Thursday when a video was posted to his Twitter account, showing the former Ole Miss offensive tackle using a gas mask bong.
This Tunsil video blows my mind pic.twitter.com/oh6KnrJoKB
— Jac Collinsworth (@JacCollinsworth) April 29, 2016
The tweet, which was deleted soon after, was sent just moments before the start of the draft.
Tunsil confirmed it was him in the video and told ESPN’s Suzy Kolber he thinks his account was hacked. His camp also said that they think the video might be old, possibly going back to high school.
Tunsil was projected by many to be a top-five pick and the first offensive tackle off the board in Thursday’s first round, but that was not the case. Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley and Michigan State’s Jack Conklin were the first two selected, and Tunsil was still waiting to hear his name called as the first 10 picks went off the board.
The Miami Dolphins eventually took him at No. 13.
"I’m blessed just to be here," Tunsil said in his interview with Kolber after the selection. "You go through adversity in life, and it’s what you overcome. And I’m going to overcome this adversity and show everybody what I’m about."
Asked specifically about the video, Tunsil said, "I’m not worried about that right now, I just know I got hacked. We’re going to try to find out who did it."
Kolber asked Tunsil if it was him in the video. He responded, "Yes."
Did the video play a role in the slide? FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer says the Baltimore Ravens had intended to go with Tunsil at No. 6 before the video came out:
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) April 29, 2016
Tunsil deleted his Twitter account after the incident, then appeared to start up a new one and post an apology, though that tweet was also soon deleted.
We’ll keep you updated on what everyone has to say about this as the night goes on.
UPDATE (10:05 p.m.): Tunsil’s Instagram account also appears to have been hacked. Two posts Thursday night showed text message conversations with one party asking for help paying bills and rent. It’s unclear whether the messages were authentic or who the sender was.
UPDATE (10:40 p.m.): Asked about the Instagram hack, Tunsil has apparently said he received money from Ole Miss:
Tunsil just denied an exchange of money between him and his coach. Then, asked again, said it happened. Then interrupted, ushered off stage.
— Joan Niesen (@JoanNiesen) April 29, 2016
Was there an exchange of money between you and your coach?
Tunsil: I have to say yeah.
— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) April 29, 2016
UPDATE (10:51 p.m.): Tunsil’s Instagram account is no longer active.
UPDATE (11:11 p.m.): Dolphins general manager Chris Grier talked about the decision to draft Tunsil and said the video is "two years old." Here’s part of the transcript:
(Opening Statement) – “Just quickly, we’re excited to add Laremy (Tunsil) to our roster. It was a great opportunity for us. We’re very comfortable with all the information we have on the situation that you guys will probably address. I’ll just open it up for questions because, obviously, the draft is still going on (and) I have to get back upstairs.” (On how long the Dolphins have known about the video) – “We had heard rumors, but we had done work. We had known about it. The video is two years old. So, from all the information we had, we were comfortable with it.” (On how old the video is) – “Two years old.” (On what makes him believe this move will be a positive one) – “We’ve done a lot of work. (Director of Team Security) Stu Weinstein – as you guys know – is one of the best security guys in the league, security directors. (We have) done a great job of researching (Laremy Tunsil’s) background. We spent time with him at the combine. Our area scout, Matt Winston, has done a great job in terms of researching him, spending some time with him at the pro day. This is a guy … He has done personality tests, all the stuff we do. This is a guy … He loves football at the end of the day. This is a guy who’s ultra-competitive (when) you watch him play. This is a different situation from that. This guy’s different. He’s built different.”
Tunsil initially wouldn’t say he was the person in the video, but eventually confirmed it was him. He said his Twitter account was hacked and that he "made that mistake several years ago."
The 6-foot-5, 310-pounder sat out the first seven games of his junior season after the NCAA ruled he received improper benefits, including the use of three loaner cars over a six-month period.
Despite Tunsil’s troubled past, Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze, who was at the draft in Chicago with Tunsil, said his former star is a humble and hard-working young man.
"First of all, I believe in him," Freeze told ESPN when asked about the video. "… That doesn’t mean mistakes have not happened. … I assure you that’s not who he is."
Tunsil’s comments, however, could lead to some tough questions for Freeze from the NCAA. But Thursday night, it was Tunsil at the center of the storm.
Tunsil, a three-year starter at Mississippi, was considered a potential top overall pick before the Tennessee Titans traded the pick to the Los Angeles Rams.
The Titans had a chance to take Tunsil with the eighth overall pick after a trade with the Cleveland Browns, but Tennessee passed on him, selecting Michigan State left tackle Conklin instead.
The Baltimore Ravens had the No. 6 pick, but also passed on Tunsil; they went with Notre Dame offensive tackle Stanley. But Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome said his decision was not influenced by the video, he just had Stanley rated higher on his draft board.
Saints coach Sean Payton said Tunsil’s drop made for an uncomfortable situation.
"He was a very highly graded player and obviously what happened was unusual and disappointing," Payton said. "It was a tough deal for everyone just watching and seeing it."
Payton said when Tunsil’s slide began, the Saints discussed selecting him, but didn’t feel he’d fit on a roster that already had young, promising offensive tackles. New Orleans took Louisville defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins with the 12th overall pick.
Tunsil’s off-field issues also included family problems.
His stepfather reportedly filed a lawsuit against him Tuesday related to a confrontation in June, when the men were both charged with domestic violence against each other. Those charges were eventually dismissed.
Tunsil was one of two Ole Miss players in this year’s draft with off-the-field issues that at least partly overshadowed productive college football careers.
Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche was charged with possession of marijuana following a 15-foot fall at a hotel in Atlanta in December. He was taken by the Arizona Cardinals with the 29th overall pick late in the first round.
Nkemdiche expressed sympathy for Tunsil’s draft-day disaster.
"It’s heartbreaking because I love that dude and he’s such a good person," Nkemdiche said. "I can’t wait to see what he does in the NFL."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.