The biggest story to come out of this year's NFL draft was Laremy Tunsil and his gas mask bong. The offensive lineman from Mississippi University was projected to be a top-five pick in the first round; he was entering the draft as arguably the best offensive lineman and one of the best overall players in this year's draft class.
Then all hell broke loose.
Just minutes before the draft was scheduled to begin, a video of Tunsil smoking marijuana with a gas mask was released via social media and became the story that dominated the first (and most important) hour of the draft.
In the end, Tunsil was selected 13th overall by the Miami Dolphins and was estimated to have lost $8 million in contract money.
The Dolphins organization quickly came to the conclusion that it was a former financial adviser of Tunsil’s who leaked the video, which was reportedly filmed two years ago.
But maybe worse than something that happened years ago becoming a public spectacle on what should have been the biggest night of his life and the money that was lost is that Tunsil now enters the NFL as someone who will be haunted by this video, and probably for a long time.
The NFL’s contempt for marijuana has been widely demonstrated in the stupidly long suspensions players can get for a positive test, but it's also embedded in the culture of the league all the way from the office of the Commissioner's office to the owners, coaches, and even commentators and analysts.
Calling Tunsil a reclamation project or a potential disciplinary problem is fair because he and his teammates were running wild at Ole Miss.
But do you think anybody really cares about that? Not when the overall chaotic nature of college football and its players’ lives on campus is so well-known. But people will definitely remember the guy who was “caught on camera” smoking out of a gas mask five minutes before the NFL draft.
And that is the beginning of Tunsil’s career narrative in the NFL.
The fact that Tunsil is doing very well so far in offseason team workouts with the Dolphins doesn’t matter as there were articles online very recently with titles making light reference to the video.
This will no doubt be a recurring theme online and from the mouths of sports commentators and analysts on TV and radio during the upcoming season.
How long this one incident will define Tunsil in the NFL remains to be seen; if he's good, it will fade away eventually, but if he’s a bust, it will be all that most people will remember him for.