Top NFL prospect Laremy Tunsil dropped to 13th in the NFL draft on Thursday night, a plunge that may cost him millions of dollars, after a video posted to his apparently hacked Twitter account showed him taking a hit from a gas-masked bong.
Tunsil, 21, an Ole Miss star who had been considered a top draft prospect -- maybe even the number one pick -- was shown in a 30-second video posted to his verified Twitter account minutes before the 2016 NFL draft commenced in Chicago. Though it was quickly deleted and his account deactivated, the video stirred an Internet frenzy as Tunsil sat in Auditorium Theater awaiting his selection.
He was finally picked by the Miami Dolphins, for which he said he felt "blessed," ESPN reported.
The video compounded other controversies around Tunsil, an offensive tackle. A post to his Instagram account, which also appeared to have been hacked, showed Tunsil apparently asking a coach for money.
The evening's controversy probably cost Tunsil big. The salaries won by the top five picks in the 2015 draft range from nearly $19 million to $23 million. The 13th pick: $10 million.
Two other offensive tackles were selected in the first 10 NFL draft picks on Thursday night. Tunsil had been predicted to be taken by the San Diego Chargers as the third pick. There were reports that the Baltimore Ravens were interested in taking him as the number six pick, but declined after seeing the video.
Asked about the video, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN, "I think it's all part of, you know, what makes the draft so exciting." Goodell said he wasn't aware of the situation as it was unfolding.
Tunsil, during a news conference after his selection, admitted it was him in the bong video. “I made a mistake,” he said. “That happened."
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said the video is "from a long time ago,” according to ESPN.
Tunsil told NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport that his Twitter account had been hacked and said he was working to find out who was responsible. Tunsil’s stepfather, who is suing the player over an alleged attack, denied any involvement, according to TMZ.
Tunsil also admitted Thursday night that he took money from a coach. His Instagram account posted a photo of a text-message conversation in which he made the request.
The text conversation appears to be between Tunsil and John Miller, assistant athletic director for football operations at Ole Miss. Asked if the texts confirmed that he took money from a coach, Tunsil said, “I’d have to say yeah.”
Tunsil was suspended from the Ole Miss team for receiving impermissible benefits, including a $3,000 down payment on a used vehicle, loaner cars, lodging and an airline ticket.
The Dolphins maintain that despite the video, they had no hesitation about picking Tunsil. "It was an opportunity for us to add a good player to our roster," General Manager Chris Grier said at a press conference on Friday.
"There were some mistakes that he had made in his past," Executive Vice President Mike Tannenbaum added, noting that Head Coach Adam Gase and Grier were all behind Tunsil.
"All the decision-makers were in the room last night, and we feel good about Laremy as a player and as a person. There were bumps in the road," Tannenbaum said. "Moving forward, we’re excited that he’s here and think he has a bright future on the field and off."
This story has been updated with a quote from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, as well as from Miami Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier and Executive Vice President Mike Tannenbaum.