CHICAGO -- The Internet -- one of the few things bigger than the NFL -- hijacked the NFL Draft on Thursday night, turning a celebration of the game into a real-time soap opera involving drug use, accusations of pay-for-play shenanigans, the freefall of the player involved and one bizarre press conference.
Note to everyone, everywhere, particularly Laremy Tunsil: There are no secrets. Especially if you film them. Especially with the Internet out there, to say nothing of some viciously awful people, waiting to prove the point.
Tunsil learned the hard way in as surprising a scene as you can imagine, and it turned the night into a strange mix of sympathy, surrealism, weirdness and, for the Miami Dolphins, opportunity.
It began when Tunsil's Twitter handle -- hijacked, we later learned -- posted photos of the soon-to-be-drafted tackle hitting a bong. In a gas mask.
The freefall began. And madness on Tunsil's social media had only just begun.
Tunsil, widely projected as the best offensive tackle in the draft and a lock to come off the board shortly after Jared Goff and Carson Wentz went Nos. 1 and 2, instead became the latest to go from best-day-ever to green room nightmare.
But this was about more than Tunsil, viewed by many as the draft's best talent. The well-oiled machinery that the NFL employs for its marquee events as tools in a constant strategy to sell itself as a shining symbol of America's most relevant and important sport had been taken hostage. The Internet, revolutionary and remarkable as it is, can be a vicious beast --just like us human beings.
And Tunsil languished.
The Cowboys did the most Cowboy thing ever and went with running back Ezekiel Elliott , even though free safety Jalen Ramsey -- reportedly the Cowboys' top player on the board -- was available. Ramsey went next.
And Tunsil languished.
Then Ronnie Stanley, also a tackle, was taken by the Ravens.
And Tunsil really languished.
With every passing pick, the shots of Tunsil were more and more pained.
There is no joy in watching another human being suffer. And there it was -- on TV, picks No. 5 … No. 6 … No. 7 … shot after shot of his face as the draft wore on and he fell.
Pick No. 8 and the TV capturing his pain … pick No. 9 and there was the embarrassment … pick No. 10 and there was a clear shot of his confusion … and on it went.
A talking head on TV said this: "Some people might sympathize," and he should have just stopped right there. He'd go on to say he didn't feel bad for Tunsil's self-inflicted wound, which is stupid, and callous, and not surprising.
We should sympathize. Human beings make mistakes, big and small. I'm so thankful I was never important enough for my stupid college moments to be fodder for public consumption.
In case you've been stuck in the 1950s or can't grasp which so-called mistakes actually matter: College kids get high. They do. So a video or picture of a college student being a college student, and then watching live as he suffers as a result of that mistake, shouldn't end with a bunch of self-righteous blowhardery.
Even if the fall in the draft makes some sense from a football perspective.
Because commissioners, especially this one, can get very, very angry when those college kids getting high have that fact flashed before the world just before they are to be drafted into the National Football League. On one of that league's most important and public nights.
There will very likely be a reckoning for Tunsil ahead, one way or another. Does it matter that his stepfather is suing him? That some suspect that person was part of this, despite his denials Thursday night? Or that some other hateful human being did this? Does it matter who or why?
No. None of it matters. Not to those who can't grasp the complications that come with all things, being a future NFL star included. The world is unfair. But sympathy, that we can have -- and should have.
That's especially true because things were about to get worse.
Just after Tunsil was finally drafted at No. 13 by the Miami Dolphins, his Instagram account got in on the act. Two screen grabs of text message exchanges were posted, implying Tunsil and Ole Miss staffers had communicated about getting the player's rent and his mother's electric/water bill paid via the coaches.
This is the world we live in now. As Tunsil walked onto that stage, forced that smile and awkwardly hugged Goodell over his Twitter problem, some horrible person somewhere thought the time was right for Act II in an attempt to ruin a young person's life.
As the Instagram posts were about to drop, Tunsil for the first time addressed the controversy as Deion Sanders interviewed him on stage in front of the world.
"Man," Tunsil said. "I made a mistake. It happened years ago. Somebody hacked my Twitter account. Man, it's a crazy world. … I did not know about it at all."
"Was it your stepfather?" Deion asked.
"I don't know who it was."
Deion then asked how he could now make it right.
"I'm just going to show everybody what type of person I am. Despite my mistakes."
Deion: "What type of man are the Dolphins getting?"
"They're getting a great man," Tunsil concluded
That man stepped off the stage and went to see the media. It did not get easier. The short walk to the building where the world's best football players, on some of the happiest days of their lives, had gone before him was different this time.
Waiting weren't questions about a glorious day. Waiting were questions about the Twitter photos, about whether or not Tunsil's own Instagram account had shown evidence he was paid at Ole Miss and thus violated NCAA rules.
And it was about to get weird.
"It's getting crazy," Tunsil told us. "But I can't control it. I can only control what I can control."
Tunsil wouldn't offer up a guess as to who hacked his account, ruined his moment and shifted much of the focus for the NFL on a day that was meant to celebrate the game, not offer up this ugliness.
"I don't have no idea who it is, man," he said. "I'm new to this."
Laremy, I mean this kindly: We're all new to this.
Especially what came next.
A reporter asked if the Instagram screen grabs of those text message exchanges were authentic. You could feel the room lean in and listen more closely.
"No," he said. "I wouldn't say that."
OK. Got it. So he's saying those weren't real. Getting high? Yes, that happened, but not those payments. Makes sense. Only …
Someone asked him again. To clarify.
This time, Tunsil said this: "Oh, no. Those are true. Like I said, I made the mistake of that happening."
Wait -- what? They're true?
A follow-up: Those exchanges showing you asking Ole Miss staffer for money were real?
"I have to say, yeah."
Then a mystery woman -- at the time, later revealed to be one of agent Jimmy Sexton's assistants -- burst onto the stage and announced the press conference was over mid-sentence. Tunsil left, leaving us more confused than ever.
All we know now is this: The world has some awful people.
The Dolphins either got a steal at No. 13 -- my belief -- or a huge headache.
There are no secrets.
And Goodell cannot be pleased with this story tainting his draft.
Afterward -- following a bizarre night and that sobering reminder about how the world works in 2016, that there's not enough empathy to spare for a player who in the end lived in the world the way it actually is -- Laremy Tunsil left for a professional career and future as unpredictable as the night that began it.