Monday, April 23, 2018
Sports

Dolphins' Tunsil tries his skill at damage control

DAVIE — Laremy Tunsil kept repeating the same answer to questions about his free fall in the draft, what he said was the social media hacking that cost him millions of dollars and the investigation he stirred at Ole Miss.

"I'm just here to talk about the Miami Dolphins," Tunsil said several times Friday.

At his introductory news conference with the Dolphins, the big tackle tried to tamp down the furor surrounding his slide to the 13th pick in the draft Thursday.

Touted at one time as a potential No. 1 overall choice, the Mississippi tackle fell into Miami's lap after a video was posted on his Twitter account shortly before the first round showing him smoking from a gas mask connected to a bong. The fall in draft position likely cost him more than $10 million.

Later, a post on his Instagram account showed an alleged text exchange with an Ole Miss football staff member that included Tunsil's request for money. The school said it will investigate.

Thursday, Tunsil said both accounts had been hacked. He declined to elaborate Friday.

Tunsil hinted only once at any bitterness regarding what had transpired while saying he felt blessed to join Miami.

"They gave me a chance," he said. "I'm going to show them why I'm the best player — I should be — in the draft."

The tale took yet another strange twist when the news conference started more than an hour late because, Tunsil said, he suffered an allergic reaction while at the Dolphins' complex. He said it had happened before and probably resulted from something he ate.

"The doctor took care of me, so I'm good," he said.

The Dolphins' risky decision to pick a player 12 other teams passed on was endorsed by executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum, general manager Chris Grier and coach Adam Gase.

"A no-brainer," Gase said.

"A great moment for our organization," Tannenbaum said.

Grier said "there was a big gap" between Tunsil and the next highest-rated player on the Dolphins' board.

Thursday's social media posts reinforced Tunsil's reputation for off-field issues.

He sat out the 2015 season's first seven games after the NCAA ruled that he received improper benefits, including the use of three loaner cars over a six-month period. His stepfather reportedly filed a lawsuit against him Tuesday related to a confrontation in June, when the men were both charged with domestic violence against each other. The charges were later dismissed.

Meanwhile, the president of the players union took exception to how the league and commissioner Roger Goodell responded to what happened to Tunsil on Thursday.

Eric Winston, an offensive tackle with the Bengals, posted on Twitter that he was "stewing" over it.

"Last night everyone saw a young man's dream turn into a nightmare," Winston's post read. "The mistakes he made in the past were released out there to millions with an intent to harm him. What did the NFL do? Nothing. In fact, if Roger is to be believed, they loved it because it made the draft 'so exciting.' … The NFL invested big on this marketing campaign of 'family.' … Let me dish out some free advice to the young men coming into this league this weekend: they are not your family. This is a business."

Bucs release eight: The Bucs released eight players on Friday, including former USF receiver Andre Davis. The others were Darius Eubanks, Antoine Everett, Gerod Holliman, Kimario McFadden, Derrick Lott, Jermauria Rasco and C.J. Roberts.

Emmitt endorses Ezekiel: Cowboys Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith, a former Florida standout and the NFL's all-time leading rusher, put his seal of approval on his old team's first-round draft pick. Dallas drafted former Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall. Someone posted to Smith's Twitter account that they hoped Elliott wold be as good as Smith.

Smith responded: "He's better."

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