DAVIE, Fla. -- Laremy Tunsil's draft night would best be described as bizarre. Then Friday afternoon brought more from the theatre of the absurd.
When the time came for his introductory press conference, Tunsil was a no-show. Team officials said he suffered an allergic reaction. Eyebrows raised. To what? Nobody could say.
Coach Adam Gase, team vice president Mike Tannenbaum and general manager Chris Grier were left to answer questions about Tunsil and the preceding 24 hours, which featured social media in a starring role. A video showing Tunsil taking a bong hit while wearing a gas mask, and then a screen grab showing Tunsil asking Ole Miss coaches for money to help pay rent had to be explained away.
Until they weren’t really explained away.
About an hour later, Tunsil, Gase and Tannenbaum surprised everyone when they walked into the team’s auditorium unannounced. Team media officials were clearly unprepared, scrambling to put together a table, chairs and microphones for Take 2 of their introductory press conference.
Tunsil stared out at the assembled reporters, clearly prepped for what was to come. Doing his best Marshawn Lynch impersonation, Tunsil refused to answer questions about the social-media posts, his admission Thursday night that he had, in fact, accepted money from Ole Miss coaches, or how he felt to be seemingly sabotaged by a hacker.
“I’m just here to talk about the Miami Dolphins,” he said at least three times.
Declining to answer questions was the only course to take after a disastrous Thursday night. And the gas-mask video is the least of his issues -- especially since the Dolphins say they knew about it well in advance.
The Instagram post set off a firestorm that could lead to serious consequences for Ole Miss. After Tunsil told reporters in Chicago, “I'd have to say yeah,” when asked if he took money from a coach, the school had no choice but to issue a statement and say it would investigate.
With more time to think about the repercussions of his answers, Tunsil had no choice but to decline any questions about whether the post was, in fact, authentic. When pressed, Tunsil again said, “I’m here to talk about the Miami Dolphins.” He was given one more opportunity to clarify his remarks about taking money from coaches. “I’m just here to talk about the Miami Dolphins,” he said.
Tunsil said Thursday night that his accounts had been hacked. But when asked Friday about who would have done that to him, Tunsil said, “I don’t know nothing about that. I’m here to talk about the Miami Dolphins.”
Eventually, he is going to have to talk about more than the Miami Dolphins: to Ole Miss and possibly NCAA investigators. But there was no way he could hide behind an allergic reaction on Friday. He had to face reporters at some point, whether he had effusive answers or not.
Tunsil got through it, then smiled for the cameras while holding up his new Dolphins jersey. But here’s betting the people in Oxford, Miss., are not smiling as big. Tunsil won’t face repercussions if he did take money and violated NCAA rules. His only job now is to put the last 24 hours behind him and prove the Dolphins didn't make a spectacular mistake when they drafted him.
It’s Ole Miss that is now left to deal with the consequences.