Last Thursday during the NFL draft something totally surreal happened. Top prospect Laremy Tunsil was passed over by team after team, until finally being picked up at number 13 by the Miami Dolphins.
The reason? Just before the draft a video was posted from Tunsil’s Twitter account showing him smoking what was assumed to be marijuana from a gas mask bong.
Then, things got even more complicated. During the draft ceremony two screenshots were posted on Tunsil’s Instagram showing text messages between the player and the assistant athletic director at his college. In the exchange, Tunsil was asking for money to pay for rent and his mom’s utility bills, which is in violation of NCAA statutes.
Despite the controversy, however, the Miami Dolphins drafted Tunsil– a move apparently made without concern over any long-term negative impacts on the brand’s reputation.
It is worth pointing out that evidence of such behavior by a job applicant (smoking an illegal substance on video) would never be tolerated in corporate America or the day-to-day lives of most people. Can you image an accountant or a company spokesperson being hired for a job after a similar video of him or her became public and came to the attention of the individual’s future employer?
Sports teams and high-profile athletes often play by different rules. After all, the players generate enormous revenues for the franchises, which consequently sometimes decide to be much more forgiving and to overlook transgressions.
It is worth remembering, however, that whenever an athlete misbehaves, his or her actions can have a significant impact on the whole team. By drafting Laremy Tunsil, the Dolphins took on two developing PR crises, with which the organization will now have to deal.
What do you think? Is the Dolphins’ decision worth the potential damage it might cause to the team’s reputation moving forward? Share your opinions in the comment section.