NFLPA president and Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Eric Winston blasted the NFL and Roger Goodell on Friday over the way the commissioner reacted to the draft drama that surrounded Laremy Tunsil the night before.
"It just shows you where their head's at," Winston told ESPN. "It just shows you that they can care less that this kid's world just fell apart in a matter of three hours."
Winston was specifically responding to comments Goodell made earlier Friday on ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike. The commissioner said he thought the controversy surrounding Tunsil's fall to the Miami Dolphins with the 13th pick made the opening round "exciting." A video on Tunsil's Twitter account showing him smoking from a gas mask was posted 13 minutes before the draft started.
"I think it's all part of what makes the draft so exciting," Goodell said. "Clubs make decisions. Sometimes they take risks. Sometimes they do the right things. Sometimes they don't, and we'll see. Hopefully he is going to turn out to be a great young player."
Tunsil was once projected as the No. 1 pick in the draft. The former Ole Miss star had been expected to be the first offensive tackle taken; he ended up being the third.
Asked about the video after he was selected Thursday night, Tunsil said his account was hacked. A similarly damning series of photographs were posted to Tunsil's Instagram page around the time Miami selected him. The images showed a text-message conversation that purportedly included Tunsil asking one of his college coaches for financial help for him and his family.
Winston was also upset that the NFL allowed Tunsil to be subjected to an uncomfortable news conference in Chicago moments after he was selected. Winston said he has not yet spoken with the rookie.
"I guarantee you not one person said, 'Why don't we not do the media? Why don't we take a break and regroup tonight?'" Winston said. "Like I said, that's not completely the NFL's fault. I don't know where the agent was at that point, either.
"At the end of the day, here's what I do know: When you go on TV the next day as the commissioner and say, 'Man, wasn't that great TV? That was awesome TV,' instead of saying something completely different and having a little bit of a heart for the kid."
Winston initially voiced his concern on Twitter, where he came out equally strong against Goodell and the NFL.
I have been stewing over what happened last night and what was said earlier today. This is what I think:— Eric Winston (@ericwinston) April 29, 2016
Last night everyone saw a young man's dream turn into a nightmare.— Eric Winston (@ericwinston) April 29, 2016
The mistakes he made in the past were released out there to millions with an intent to harm him. What did the NFL do? Nothing.— Eric Winston (@ericwinston) April 29, 2016
In fact, if Roger is to be believed, they loved it because it made the draft "so exciting."— Eric Winston (@ericwinston) April 29, 2016
The NFL invested big on this marketing campaign of "family." It was all over Chicago on every billboard.— Eric Winston (@ericwinston) April 29, 2016
Let me dish out some free advice to the young men coming into this league this weekend: they are not your family. This is a business.— Eric Winston (@ericwinston) April 29, 2016
I hope that what Laremy said is true and that he learned from his mistake.— Eric Winston (@ericwinston) April 29, 2016
I wish him good luck and hope every drafted player is wise to what it takes to make it in the NFL and who really has your back.— Eric Winston (@ericwinston) April 29, 2016
Winston, an 11-year veteran, was a third-round pick in 2006. He re-signed with the Bengals on a one-year deal last month at the start of free agency.