Well the first day of the NFL draft provided many interesting life lessons for future stars and current high school athletes. None is more apparent than the draft day story of Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil.
Tunsil, who many thought before the Tennessee Titans traded the first overall pick to the Los Angeles Rams would go No. 1, saw his status slip in the draft due to a supposed hack of his twitter and Instagram account that showed a video of the tackle smoking marijuana out of a gas mask. The drop stopped at the 13th pick where the Miami Dolphins selected him, but the fallout didn’t stop there. Tunsil’s account then posted “facts” that showed a conversation between him and Ole Miss director of football operations John Miller about paying the tackle’s bills and his mother’s bills.
Asked about these things, Tunsil didn’t shy away from either saying that the pot smoking shot was something that happened and that he was paid by a coach at Ole Miss. Some are saying that they respect Tunsil for being honest, while others question weather he can stay away from temptation while playing for the Dolphins.
I think that the most important thing to take away from this is not how this will affect Tunsil or the Ole Miss football program, but what this means to younger athletes who dream about playing college athletics or as a professional.
First, as a coach, I am not opposed to players using social media but they do need to realize that whatever is out there — it’s out there. Tunsil probably knew about the video, but didn’t realize some haters out there would release the video — hurting his draft stock. I am not condoning what he did, but I will say that this is the type of thing that young athletes get caught up doing.
Social media sites are amazing to look at, explore and voice your opinion on different events, things and people. Many don’t think of the repercussions for voicing private opinions all over the internet. Coaches, colleges and future employers have the opportunity to do background checks on people based on what they freely offer on social media. So when applying for a job where you are duking it out with others for the position, posting video from Friday night’s escapades may not be the best idea.
College coaches also take a look at social media. Several coaching posts I have seen talk about how a college football coach was looking to give one of their last scholarships to a certain athlete, but after looking at their facebook and twitter pages, decided to move on.
Tunsil is a great example of what not to do for young athletes. When the video went online, the stud tackle lost millions of dollars. Ask any young athlete if they would freely give up millions of dollars, I sure they would say no.
Something that also came to my attention during the NFL draft was the twitter handles of several of these college athletes. @Cantguardmike (Ohio State’s Michael Thomas), @813MrFreakShow (Illinois’s Geronimo Allison) and @KingTunsil78 (Tunsil) are just a few of the handles that are out there. With all the money preparing these athletes for the combine, pro days and private workouts, is there any money going to social media consciousness?
I admit that in high school I had a ridiculous email handle, but when I was in college, I knew it was important to have a generic email that I could send in resumes, apply for jobs and have important documents sent to. I know many would say that these pro athletes can get away with it, but how many people out there are going to be professional athletes? Change your handle.
Next, we need to look at Tunsil’s texts with the director. I don’t want to go down the road about whether players should be paid or not, but until something changes on that, players and staff need to live their life by the letter of the law. If you are planning on breaking the law, why leave a paper trail?
This thought comes from more of outside perspective rather than from someone that has any insight into how illegal pay happens with players. I think that most people believe that amazing college athletes are getting paid under the table by boosters, coaches and other sources. If things like this are happening in college sports, obvious Ole Miss didn’t get the memo (or lack thereof) about how to keep things quiet.
Lastly, know the people that are around you and try to eliminate those that don’t have your best interests. Tunsil found out just how unlucky you can be when people you thought were your friends get a hold of some incriminating material.
This is one of the hardest things for many young people to do. You grow up with someone for most of your life and when your paths take drastically different turns, you find that you are trying to hang on to what that person was and not who they are now.
I have had friends that have taken negative turns in their lives and early on, I tried to stay in contact, sort of hoping that they would go back to the way they were. Most haven’t.
I also have close friends that I don’t talk to a lot, but when we get together, it was like we never were apart. These are the people that have been positive peer influences in my life and share a lot of the same values.
Tunsil, who obviously was betrayed by someone close to him, was on his way up and out of a rough situation. Someone who still is in that situation was either jealous or angry at Tunsil was out for revenge. Tunsil needs to cut ties with this person and surround himself with people who have his best interests at heart. This is the best life lessons that any young person can learn from this sports snafu.
I wish the best of luck to those players that were drafted this year and hope that they treat the game they are blessed to play as professionals, that they stay injury-free and that they have successful careers.