So much happened to Laremy Tunsil last Thursday night at the NFL Draft that the following Friday morning -- beyond the headache and blur -- provided vital relief. He flew from Chicago to Miami, to the Dolphins, and realized the team that had rescued him from his national humiliation and draft slide really did want him. Truly did embrace him.
Dolphins general manager Mike Tannenbaum could see that Tunsil's wounds were still fresh.
"He was sincere yet anxious about being here," Tannebaum said. "But he was also warm, looked us in the eyes and was excited to be here. We told him Thursday was not the end of the story but just the beginning."
It is among the ultimate risk/reward selections in NFL draft history.
The risks? The Dolphins at No. 13 overall took a player whose social media accounts had been hacked on draft night and revealed a video of him smoking from a bong, texts implicating he took illegal payments while at Mississippi and a press conference where he admitted both as mistakes. The risk is that these are not mistakes but veritable character issues that indicate future mess.
The reward? Tunsil rises from it and grows into a model NFL citizen and dominating left tackle that helps boosts Miami to championship caliber.
The 12 teams that drafted before Miami wanted no part of the risks.
The Dolphins see reward.
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Actually, Miami was not alone. Other teams, including the New York Jets, tried to move into position before Miami to draft Tunsil. Tannenbaum said the Dolphins fielded calls from teams desiring to move into that 13th slot via trade, likely to draft Tunsil.
When two quarterbacks were drafted at the top of the first round, the non-quarterback first-round talent was pushed further down, impacting Tunsil's availability to the Dolphins. So did the fleeing from Tunsil by three teams ahead of Miami that sorely needed left tackles.
The Baltimore Ravens ignored him at No. 6 and drafted a different left tackle (Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley) at that spot. Baltimore was clearly spooked after its own Ray Rice domestic abuse video debacle. It had no interest in taking on another video-driven player saga. The Tennessee Titans traded up to the No. 8 pick and nabbed Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin, a talented player who is not considered Tunsil's equal. The New York Giants at No. 10, in the midst of three straight losing seasons and having missed the playoffs for four straight years, abstained. Picking that highly, they had no stomach for treading into possible character chaos.
"I can't opine on what someone else did or did not select," Tannenbaum said. "For us, as we saw everything unfold, we made the decision together, including our owner, Steve Ross. It was such an important decision and a unanimous decision.
"The video was a concern. We checked into it. It still came out as a win/win opportunity. Laremy made a mistake and he's not the first person or the last one to make one. His body of work going back to high school showed us he was a good football player and person who would represent us well in the community. We had met with him in Indy. We found him to be a good person there, also. We were prepared. He is glad to be a Dolphin. We are glad to have him. He is ready to get to work."
Exactly one week after his strange and stinging draft night, Tunsil arrives in Miami once again for the Dolphins' rookie minicamp. It runs from Thursday until Sunday.
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In Chicago, Tunsil was under siege. A young man -- only 21 -- blindsided. Mocked. Ridiculed.
In his initial Chicago press conference, he said he learned about the hacking of his social media accounts, about the video and text messages, only moments after he was drafted. He looked and sounded remorseful about it all. Actually, he looked in shock.
Then he was quickly escorted into a small room where his advisers told him to shut down on addressing any issues. He resurfaced repeating that he was simply happy to be a Miami Dolphin.
It was an excruciating event for a young man who entered his draft experience expecting memorable moments, not mortifying ones.
But an NFL general manager told me that it all might be a blessing for Tunsil.
"Here is a very talented player, a once projected No. 1 pick overall in the entire draft, who did have some red flags before all of this happened," the general manager said, requesting anonymity. "We all knew he had smoked weed. We just didn't know there was a video of it. This whole thing should be an awakening for Tunsil. It could be the best thing that ever happened for this kid. A lot of these kids are like bobbleheads when you talk to them. `Uh-huh, Uh-huh' is what you often get when you are trying to tell them something. And he has the kind of personality that needed this. He is a strong guy. A huge Alpha Male. He felt sort of invincible. I don't think he grasped before this that the NFL can chew you up and spit you out if you are not careful. I don't think he realized that before the draft -- but I'll bet you he does now.
"The question is was it enough for him? I don't know, but at least now, before he gets himself into another situation, I'd imagine he will think twice. Hopefully long and hard. Miami can always refer back to this, use it, not forget it, use it as a blueprint to be invasive with him. He may not want them to be invasive. So what? They had better be. Really, though, it is up to the player."
Tannenbaum said there is no doubt about Tunsil's chances to be great. He said Tunsil has "every skill in the bag." He said his athleticism for his size (6'5, 310 pounds) is superb. He loves his footwork. He said Tunsil is strong enough to deal with a defensive bull-rush and quick enough to handle rushing menaces barreling from around the end.
"There are challenges for every player turning pro," Tannenbaum said. "There are many resources here to help him. Our owner believes in helping players."
How much will Tunsil help himself? That is the risk/reward root.