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The NFL draft is normally a straightforward event. Teams pick players. Players say, I'm happy to be part of my new team, and off they go. This year, things went differently. University of Mississippi offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil was expected to be picked as high as third overall, but a series of surprising twists meant that didn't happen. NPR's Becky Sullivan takes it from here.
BECKY SULLIVAN, BYLINE: Thirteen minutes before the draft last night, this short video showed up on Laremy Tunsil's Twitter account. There's a guy on a couch wearing a mask that's attached to a bong, and it looks like he's smoking. Then, he takes off the mask. You can see his face. It's Laremy Tunsil. Tunsil was arguably the best prospect in the country at his position, but the video clearly bothered teams. These days, the NFL is pretty sensitive about character. And practically speaking, teams can be reluctant to draft a player who might be a risk for getting suspended for smoking pot. So team after team passed on Tunsil, until finally he was taken at number 13.
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ROGER GOODELL: The Miami Dolphins select Laremy Tunsil.
SULLIVAN: It doesn't sound that big, but the drop to 13th probably cost Tunsil six to eight million dollars. Then, things got worse - not for Tunsil, but for his alma mater. On Tunsil's Instagram account, someone posted two screenshots that seemed to show Tunsil texting with a coach at Ole Miss while Tunsil was still in school there. He's asking for money to help pay his rent and his mom's electricity bill. The coach doesn't say yes, but he does say, quote, "we all agreed on an amount." This is kind of a big deal because the NCAA usually does not allow schools to give athletes any kind of special compensation above the cost of attending school. Meanwhile, Tunsil is still at the draft and has to give his post-draft press conference. And he said his accounts had been hacked, though it's not clear who the culprit is. Then, Tunsil admitted that the exchange with the Ole Miss coach was legit.
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LAREMY TUNSIL: That was true. Like I said, I made a mistake of that happening, and it happened.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So there was an exchange between you and your coach of money?
TUNSIL: I have to say yeah.
SULLIVAN: This is just the latest in a dramatic week for Laremy Tunsil. On Tuesday, he was sued by his own stepfather for defamation related to a fight they had last summer. As for Ole Miss, the school was already in the NCAA's doghouse, in part because Laremy Tunsil was given free loaner cars by a dealership in Mississippi. Now, with these new allegations, Ole Miss says they plan to, quote, aggressively investigate and fully cooperate with the NCAA. Becky Sullivan, NPR News.
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