Laremy Tunsil slides after bong video surfaces, OL says he took money from Ole Miss coach – USA TODAY

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CHICAGO – Three weeks ago, Laremy Tunsil was the likely No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft.

On Thursday, he suffered one of the most bizarre falls down the draft board in recent history after a video of him wearing a gas mask and smoking a bong was posted on his verified Twitter account just before the start of the draft.

Tunsil slid behind Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley, drafted by the Baltimore Ravens at No. 6, and Michigan State’s Jack Conklin, to the Tennessee Titans at No. 8, until the Miami Dolphins finally ended his fall at 9:43 p.m. ET at pick No. 13.

And that might not even have been the biggest news of the night.

Within minutes of being selected, two pictures were posted to Tunsil’s Instagram account of text messages that appeared to show him asking for money from a coach at Ole Miss.

About an hour later at his formal press conference, Tunsil was asked twice if he took money from a coach while at Ole Miss. At first, he denied it, but then said, “I have to say yeah.” He was then ushered off the interview podium and behind a closed door.

It was all part of one of most unusual first-round draft experiences ever.

“I made a mistake, a huge mistake,” Tunsil said, about an hour later at his formal press conference. “Things happened. I can’t control things. Got to my phone, hacking my Instagram, Twitter.”

The Tunsil video, subsequent Instagram posts and slide out of the top 10 quickly became the biggest story of the first round.

When Tunsil’s wait finally ended, he bear hugged mother, exhaled deeply, and made the long walk from the green room at the Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University to greet NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. He smiled as he held up his new teal Dolphins jersey, but it hardly could have been the happy draft moment he envisioned.

All of Thursday’s drama came less than two days after Tunsil’s stepfather, Lindsey Miller, filed a civil lawsuit late Tuesday against Tunsil, claiming the former Ole Miss player attacked Miller last summer.

According to The Clarion-Ledger, the lawsuit alleges that Tunsil defamed Miller’s character and caused the “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

Tunsil, in an interview with NFL Network on the draft stage, declined to say who he believed posted the video to Twitter. But his lawyer told USA TODAY Sports Thursday night that the intent of both the lawsuit and the posts was clear.

“The timing of the lawsuit is transparent while simultaneously counterintuitive. The photo is obviously meant to hurt his draft status and seems to have had the desired effect,” Steven Farese said. “I am saddened by the viciousness of both acts and disappointed that jealousy and greed are so prevalent in today’s society.”

Though buzz intensified in the 24 hours before the draft that the San Diego Chargers preferred Stanley to Tunsil, this sort of draft freefall showed that more teams must have been concerned about Tunsil’s off-field issues.

The Dolphins were not one of them.

Miami general manager Chris Grier told reporters in South Florida that Tunsil was the No. 2-ranked player on the team’s draft board. Team officials began making phone calls Thursday night after the video surfaced to make sure their own internal scouting reports about Tunsil were correct, and they were confident in what they found. Grier said the team believes the video is two years old, and that team owner Stephen Ross was on board with the Dolphins selecting Tunsil.

“We know the story behind it. We’d rather leave that to maybe the kid to address, but we know the story behind it. We’re comfortable with what it is,” Grier said.

Tunsil has so far declined to offer specifics, beyond saying it was a mistake from his past. He did confirm during a conference call with reporters in Miami that it was two years old, and he said he never failed any drug tests while in college or in the lead up to the NFL draft.

“Man, like I said, I don’t know what’s going on, man. I don’t know why they hacked my account. I haven’t done nothing to nobody. Man, I’m harmless,” Tunsil said.

Still, the marijuana video and Instagram posts alleging impropriety at Ole Miss could have lasting implications.

The video and admission by Tunsil that he smoked marijuana mean Tunsil potentially be referred to a professional drug counselor once he arrives in Miami, as well as potentially be entered into phase one of the NFL’s substance abuse program, which is standard procedure for a new player who had a drug-related issue while in college.

“Whenever there is conduct or behavior that involves a substance of abuse, the player can be referred for evaluation and potential entry into the substances of abuse program. The determinations are made by clinical professionals,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said. “The primary objective is to provide assistance to address any issues and give the player the best opportunity to succeed in the league.”

For Ole Miss, Tunsil’s admission of accepting money could add to the trouble Ole Miss is already facing. The university is already under investigation by the NCAA for more than two dozen violations in multiple sports. Some of those violations are already believed to be tied to Tunsil.

Neither Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze nor athletics director Ross Bjork responded to messages seeking comment Thursday night.

Follow Lindsay H. Jones on Twitter @bylindsayhjones.

PHOTOS: NFL draft first-round picks

Laremy Tunsil slides after bong video surfaces, OL says he took money from Ole Miss coach – USA TODAY

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