Opinion: Tunsil draft night not “exciting”


Lucas Misera

Lucas Misera

The NFL Draft is an annual celebration of football that brings fans at both the collegiate and professional levels together. The pageantry and excitement surrounding the event helps the NFL stay relevant, even in the midst of the NBA and NHL playoffs, as well as the start of baseball season. Unfortunately, a majority of the draft’s buzz this past week was at the expense of Laremy Tunsil, a highly-touted, offensive lineman from the University of Mississippi.

The night started out poorly for Tunsil, who was expected to be a top draft pick. However, as the draft started, his Twitter account was hacked and a picture of him smoking a gas mask bong was posted. Despite having passed drug tests leading up to the draft, teams were understandably hesitant to take him. He eventually dropped to the Miami Dolphins at pick 13, costing him $7 million.

The night only got worse for Tunsil when he admitted to taking money from a coach at Mississippi to help his family pay rent. Though his actions were good natured, this violates strict NCAA rules, and his alma mater could face stiff punishment.

Even though the video should not have been leaked and Tunsil should have known that NCAA coaches can’t give players money, my frustration lies not with Tunsil—mistakes happen—but rather with the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell.

After Tunsil’s tough draft outing, Goodell was asked about his thought on the situation. Rather than sending the young lineman his best wishes or even expressing concern, the commissioner’s first instinct was to point out that nights like Tunsil’s are what make the draft “exciting.”

Exciting? You’re in charge of a league that has had nine arrests since 2016 began—four of which are drug or alcohol-related—and one involving a battery charge for hitting a woman. The word choice “exciting” is questionable, at best.  

In a league where maintaining a clean image has become increasingly more difficult, the last thing Goodell should do is call Tunsil’s situation exciting. If Goodell thinks that was exciting, what does he think of Greg Hardy’s deplorable domestic abuse case, Johnny Manziel’s profoundly disappointing spiral out of stardom or Josh Gordon’s obvious drug problem? Are these “exciting” cases for the NFL another example of the league making headlines for the wrong reasons?

The league needs a reset button. But if it had one, Goodell should be the first piece to go. His poor leadership has been toxic for the league and the jeers from the crowd when he walked on stage at the draft made that more than evident.

The NFL needs to remember that, although its focus is football, players across the league face problems more pressing than the game. Goodell needs to treat the players in his league like humans rather than headline-creating revenue generators because fans of the NFL recognize that drug abuse and domestic violence are genuine causes for concern. Definitely not “exciting.”

Lucas Misera is a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].