(WTNH)–News 8 sports anchor Erik Dobratz is kind of old. (Sorry, Erik).
So when Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil suffered through the most bizarre night in NFL Draft history on Thursday, it reminded Erik of 1995–when another highly-touted prospect watched helplessly as he lost millions and saw his reputation tarnished.
21 years ago, Warren Sapp was considered a potential No. 1 pick heading into the 1995 draft, before a report from the New York Times claimed he had tested positive for cocaine and marijuana.
It turned out that like Tunsil, Sapp had indeed smoked marijuana. But the NFL immediately came out and labeled the Times report inaccurate, saying Sapp had not tested positive for cocaine.
Sapp’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus was, as he so often is, incredulous.
”You have to wonder about why anyone would say that at this point,” Rosenhaus said at the time, suggesting that teams were trying to influence where he ended up.
It’s still unclear who planted the story about Sapp and cocaine, but the old-school blackmail had a definite impact on his draft stock. Instead of taking the future Hall of Fame defensive lineman, the Cincinnati Bengals went with running back Kijana Carter from Penn State at No. 1, which ended up being one of the worst top picks of all-time.
Pro Bowlers Tony Boselli, Steve McNair, Kerry Collins, Kevin Carter and Joey Galloway would all be selected before Sapp, and the New York Jets even passed on the big fella at No. 9, opting for Kyle Brady instead, which of course, drew a predictable and relentless chorus of boos from Jets fans in attendance.
Sapp wound up being drafted 12th overall by the Tampa Bay Bucaneers, and went on to a Hall of Fame career that included a Super Bowl title.
Tunsil ended up being selected 13th, by the Miami Dolphins, which may have cost him as much as $13 million.
Sapp is still not over his draft night debacle.
“Nobody replays my draft because it was the biggest lie ever told so they go to the Aaron Rodgers draft and they go to the Brady Quinn draft of guys waiting in the room. I’m the original guy that was sitting in that room like that,” Sapp told USA Today’s For the Win in 2013.
“When you’re sitting there watching your mother and grandma cry about the biggest lie ever told in front of your face and the world? Nah. You really can’t see past that moment right there as a 20-, 21-year-old. Anyone telling you they can is telling you a lie.”
Will Laremy Tunsil ever get over his social media-blundering, NCAA violation-inducing, bizarre blur of a night? Who knows. But if he has a career like Warren Sapp, he’ll be OK.