A funny thing happened on the way to the Dolphins' 13th pick in the first round of last night's NFL draft.
Draft analysis and reporters truly had no idea what the Fins would do in the first round. The team had a lot of needs to fill and a lot of options to pursue. However, not a single person expected the Dolphins to wind up with Laremy Tunsil. That's because the Ole Miss offensive tackle was supposed to be long gone by the time the Fins got on the board. Viewed as perhaps the most athletic player available, he was, at times, even projected as the first pick.
Then again, no one could have predicted that less than an hour before the draft, an odd video of Tunsil taking a huge hit through some sort of weird bondage-mask-meets-bong contraption would be posted on the player's official Twitter.
Tunsil's agent quickly claimed his client's Twitter account was hacked and suggested that the video was old and outdated, possibly from when Tunsil was in high school. It's basically a video of a kid experimenting with pot, but this is the ever-puritanical NFL. Though, perhaps Tunsil's choice of smoking apparatus made it look even worse than it was.
Despite the explanations, Tunsil's draft stock plummeted. The Baltimore Ravens, who had the sixth overall pick, reportedly took him off their draft board.
Then the Dolphins swooped in with their 13th pick and took Tunsil.
"We're very comfortable with all the information we have on the situation. We had heard rumors, and we had done [background] work," Dolphins GM Chris Grier said after the pick, according to ESPN. "The video is two years old. So from all the information we have, we are comfortable with it."
If there's a franchise in the NFL that has benefited most from unfortunately timed drug-related rumors, it's certainly the Dolphins.
Dan Marino was in a similar situation in the infamous 1983 draft. Originally pegged to be taken off the board much higher, Marino slipped down the draft until the Fins selected him with the 27th pick.
Allegedly, word had gotten around within the league that Marino was known for being a hard partier in college and may have even been a frequent user of cocaine. No one has ever proven he indulged, and though Bleacher Report confirms the rumor certainly existed, the site points out that other factors may have led to Marino's draft stock falling as well.
Still, it's at least good to know that a player plagued by a draft-time drug scandal still can turn out well.
Perhaps it's also telling that Marino himself was in the Dolphins' draft room when the decision to take Tunsil was made.
Naturally, the coincidence has led some to put on their conspiracy hats:
Did the @MiamiDolphins just pull another Dan Marino by spreading "drug use" rumors to get the player they want to drop to them in the draft?— OversteerTV (@OversteerTV) April 29, 2016
Dan Marino got dropped in the draft for pot allegations and now Laremy Tunsil for the same thang sketchy because they went to the same team— Michael Walden (@mawalden55) April 29, 2016
It's Dan Marino all over again...hacked the draft, spread the drug rumors, got their man! https://t.co/cVZpWcJ10K— Neil Dwyer (@neildwyer1993) April 29, 2016
Of course, that tongue-in-cheek conspiracy theory wouldn't explain what happened next.
After Tunsil was drafted, screen shots appeared on his Instagram of text messages in which Tunsil allegedly asked his Ole Miss coaches for money to pay his mother's rent and electricity. As Deadspin points out, there's no way Tunsil could have posted them. He was admitting to ESPN's Suzy Kolber at the time that the guy in the pot video was indeed himself.
Tunsil would later admit that, yes, he took money from his coaches. "I’d have to say yeah," he said when asked about an exchange of money.
You can say a lot about Tunsil's character after tonight, but at least you can't say he's anything but absolutely honest and forthcoming.
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It's also worth noting that Tunsil's stepfather filed suit against the player the day before the draft for alleged assault and defamation. However, it's possible that's unrelated.
We'll save you the moralizing. Everyone already knows there are players in the NFL who have been accused, if not convicted, of far worse moral failings than Tunsil.
In fact, though the Tunsil saga is bizarre, it's not even the most unethical thing involving a Miami sports team that was revealed last night.
Hours later, Miami Marlins star second baseman was suspended for 80 games for breaking the MLB's performance-enhancing drug policy.