Laremy Tunsil's NFL Draft press conference was a crime. Not because of the questions asked, but because it was clear he hadn't been given enough coaching.
Tunsil, the Ole Miss offensive tackle, was thrown into a media firestorm that erupted just moments before the draft started Thursday. A video was posted to Tunsil's Twitter account showing him smoking out of a bong attached to a gas mask.
— History Of Sports (@BeforeFamePics) April 29, 2016
The post was deleted soon after, but it had already been copied and shared, and Tunsil's dream day turned into a nightmare. Mel Kiper's final Big Board had Tunsil as the No. 1 player. As Tunsil dropped all the way down to the Dolphins at No. 13, the 21-year-old's agent issued a sharp statement asserting Tunsil's account was hacked and the footage was taken "at an underdetermined time" before Tunsil "found God."
— Andrew Hall (@DudeYouCrazy) April 29, 2016
While interviewed on stage by Deion Sanders, Tunsil said he heard about the video's posting while in the green room. He used the term "hacked" to describe what had happened.
Deion Sanders talks to Laremy Tunsil pic.twitter.com/nJOtoXoNos
— The Cauldron (ICYMI) (@CauldronICYMI) April 29, 2016
When Sanders asked if the hacker was Tunsil's stepfather, Tunsil didn't implicate anyone. Tunsil had been arrested on charges of domestic assault in June 2015 when he allegedly attacked his stepfather, Lindsey Miller, in defense of his mother, Desiree Tunsil.
I wonder if Laremy Tunsil’s stepfather, who he has been fighting with in the courts, got his revenge tonight.
— Bart Hubbuch (@BartHubbuch) April 29, 2016
Tunsil’s stepfather is a jerk. To say the least.
— Andrea Hangst (@FBALL_Andrea) April 29, 2016
Tunsil's stepfather sounds like a real class-act adult. Parents shouldn't sue or sabotage children.
— Alicia Jessop (@RulingSports) April 29, 2016
Then Tunsil's Instagram account was hacked. Photos of alleged texting conversations connecting John Miller, Ole Miss assistant athletic director for football, and Barney Farrar, Ole Miss assistant AD, to helping Tunsil pay rent and his mother's bills. Tunsil said later that he was notified about the Instagram hack while on an ESPN Radio interview between the time he was picked and his NFL Draft press conference.
man someone *really* doesn't like Laremy Tunsil. Here's his Instagram: pic.twitter.com/54KGpBXsJO
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) April 29, 2016
Like the Twitter video, the Instagram posts were deleted but only after they had been copied. This set off a whole other discussion. While the marijuana video could be rationalized as teens being teens, the Instagram posts had a wider implication because they involve Ole Miss. If Ole Miss officials provided a player and his family with benefits that are against NCAA rules, the football program could be sanctioned.
Which brings us to the presser. All players at the draft conduct a press conference after being selected. When it was Tunsil's turn, reporters were ready to ask if he had been paid at Ole Miss. Tunsil should've known those questions were coming. If somehow he didn't, someone needed to prepare him on how to respond.
Laremy Tunsil is no longer an amateur and whether he was a pure student-athlete is not the point. He has an agent, the NFLPA and as of Thursday, the Miami Dolphins, who should all be on his side. Someone should have done one of two things:
-- Option A: Tell Tunsil not to admit anything related to the Instagram hack. Go full Marshawn Lynch. Don't talk.
-- Option B: If you think that he cannot withstand the pressure after this unprecedented set of events, don't send him to the podium.
Tunsil went to the podium. For the first half of his press conference, he handled himself well. He said, "I made that mistake several years ago," when talking about the gas mask. He consistently answered questions with, "I'm happy to be part of the Miami Dolphins organization."
Then a reporter asked, "Was there an exchange of money?"
Tunsil's answer: "I'd have to say yeah."
After three more questions, an unidentified woman appeared from behind the curtain and halted the press conference. Tunsil walked off the podium and expressed frustration for a Mississippi-based reporter asking him difficult questions.
You can find Tunsil's apparent admission of guilt starting around 2:42 and the press conference getting shut down at 3:30:
Laremy Tunsil addresses getting hacked on Twitter and Instagram.https://t.co/xoC3j2oczW
— ThePostGame.com (@ThePostGame) April 29, 2016
After being ushered off podium, Tunsil is now standing behind this door being briefed by somebody. pic.twitter.com/JuKnhXfRdJ
— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) April 29, 2016
But here's another important question: Does Laremy Tunsil deserve this? The answer is probably not.
Clearly finances were an issue for the Tunsil family. Put yourself in Laremy Tunsil's shoes for a minute. A college scholarship is not enough for players like Tunsil. His free education does not cover rent and his mother's bills. Deep down, he may feel like he did nothing wrong at Mississippi, even if he did receive money. He put a product on the field. He made the school boatloads of money. He beat Alabama twice. Having a few bills handled was not a big deal in his mind.
If those Instagram posts are legitimate and Ole Miss did break NCAA rules, then the program could be in trouble. The truth should come out, but this was not the right forum.
The NFL did provide some cover to Tunsil when it omitted his answer about taking money from the official transcript of his press conference. Too bad that came after the fact.
The official Laremy Tunsil NFL Draft transcript leaves out admission of guilt when asked if money was exchanged. pic.twitter.com/1L2MzmF7Xj
— Jeffrey Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) April 29, 2016
Maybe Tunsil did not understand the question or he didn't hear it right. Maybe he did not understand the power of his answer. One thing that is certain: This is all being explained to him right now. If the explanation had come a little earlier, it could've prevented Tunsil's bad day from getting even worse.
But it didn't, and that was not fair to him, regardless of whether he got paid at school.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.