By Max Godby
Imagine your perfect day where all your dreams come true. What does it entail? Is it your birthday? Your wedding? The day you finally retire? All of us have a day we are so looking forward to experiencing. Last Thursday started the next chapter of college football players’ journeys, and for most, this was the climax. Being a first round draft pick was their dream, their perfect day. They always imagined the NFL Commissioner walking across the stage to the podium and announcing, “With the number one overall pick, the Los Angeles Rams select…” Fame and fortune would come in an instant once their name was called. However, on Thursday, while so many players fulfilled a lifelong dream, one specific player’s perfect day went from a dream to a nightmare in an instant.
Laremy Tunsil probably had this day planned out in his imagination the morning of the draft. He probably expected to go in the top five picks, small chance of number one overall, and receive a signing bonus in the ballpark of 15-18 million dollars. All Tunsil’s daydreaming and imagining crashed when news broke that his twitter account was hacked, and a video of him allegedly smoking marijuana was posted. The news caused him to not only drop out of the top five, but out of the top ten; he eventually ended up the thirteenth pick to the Miami Dolphins. Instead of cheers and a sigh of relief to know where he would play professional football, he was bombarded with questions from media over the video. “Was that you in the video?” In front of God and everyone, one reporter asked a direct question, and Tunsil owned it, “Yes.” To make matters even worse, his Instagram account was hacked, and posted was a screenshot of a series of messages between him and an Ole Miss coach allegedly dealing with giving money to Tunsil to pay for his mom’s utilities. He was asked directly about it as well, and he answered, “Yes.” Now Ole Miss will be open for investigation by the NCAA. How does a day with so much promise end with such scrutiny and damage that may be too much to repair?
Reading my timeline on Twitter and Facebook was truly disheartening. Some showed no sympathy for Tunsil because of the amount of money he was about to make. Apparently, the more money you have, the less emotion and feelings you possess. Some rejoiced that his past sins caught up to him, even quoting scripture as if this were God’s punishment on Tunsil. So many people hid behind computers to mock a twenty-one year old who had to stand on an open stage and face his past mistakes and demons in front of millions. Let us remember–he is a kid.
So all of you who believe that Tunsil deserves this humiliation, or his new financial status negates any emotional reaction, let me ask you a question. What if it were you? What if, on your perfect day, the day of your dreams, your demons and past mistakes decided to appear, leaving you naked and completely helpless in front of everyone you know and love? What demons would show up on your wedding day? What past sins would show up at your retirement party? What past regrets would appear at your first big job after college? I pray that never happens to you. It scares me enough to imagine my past sins to greet me unannounced one day. My heart breaks for Laremy.
In John 8, there is a story about Pharisees, Jewish priests, who caught a woman in the act of adultery. They brought her to Jesus where there was a huge crowd following Him. This woman’s sin was announced to the whole crowd, and the Pharisees told Jesus that law mandated she be stoned. Jesus calmly knelt down and played in the dirt. He looked up at the crowd and said, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.” The Pharisees became disgruntled and left, dropping the stones and rocks as they retreated. Then in a typical Jesus fashion, He knelt down to the woman and asked her, “Who has condemned you?” She looked around and answered that no one had condemned her. Jesus smiled and said, “Then neither do I. Now go and sin no more.”
Let me ask another question. Who are we in this story? Have we ever been like Tunsil or the woman? Did the sins and mistakes of our pasts come crashing down on us, leaving us vulnerable and open for everyone to see? Or are we the Pharisees, just chomping at the bit to throw a rock full of malice and judgment? There is good news for both sides. Jesus. Simply Jesus. He knows our sin. He knows our mistakes. He knows our pasts. He took it all upon Himself and endured the cross so that, through Him, it will never wreak havoc on us ever again.
So, good for you, Laremy Tunsil! Your perfect day may not have played out the way you dreamed it, but you faced your past and “owned it” while all eyes were watching.
Images from the 2016 NFL Draft in Chicago, IL. Photo by Lindsey Spieler/NFL Films