In the wake of one of the many scandals that have rocked college football this year, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor decided to go pro rather than return to school. He would have had to serve a five-game suspension this season for accepting improper benefits from a tattoo parlor owner. The byzantine rules of the NCAA, which punish kids for getting cash even though their play generates millions of dollars of revenue for the schools the represent, treated Pryor like an outlaw.
It’s only fitting that the NFL’s renegade team selected him.
On Monday, the Oakland Raiders selected Pryor in the third round of the NFL’s supplemental draft, an annual event that no one usually notices because all the good players are taken in the real draft. The supplemental draft is designed for players like Pryor, whose circumstances changed drastically between the time he could have filed for the main NFL draft in January, and today. Pryor threw for 2772 yards and 27 TDs last season, and if the Ohio State program didn’t implode over the past few months, he would have been a leading Heisman Trophy candidate this season.
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But instead of holding college football’s top prize, Pryor may be riding the pine for Oakland (though according to ESPN, he will receive a four-year, $2.36 million deal, with a $591,000 signing bonus. Not a bad way to make an inactive living). The Raiders already have Jason Campbell, Kyle Boller and Trent Edwards at quarterback. None of those guys are Joe Montana, but Pryor is not going to take the starting job, especially after coming into camp late.
Plus, Pryor’s prospects as an NFL quarterback are questionable. He’s not a terribly accurate thrower. There’s talk that the Raiders might try to convert the 6’6″, 230-pound Pryor into a wide receiver. Learning a new position will take time.
He will have plenty of time to practice, as the NFL has said that Pryor must serve a five-game suspension before he can play. This sentence mimics the one that the NCAA handed down on Pryor. This ruling is outrageous. Since when is it the NFL’s business to enforce the NCAA’s rules? Funny, the NFL didn’t suspend Reggie Bush for accepting money from marketers while he played at USC. The NFL didn’t prevent Pete Carroll from fleeing USC, for the head coaching job of the Seattle Seahawks, just a few months before the NCAA penalized the school for failing to catch Bush’s rule breaking.
Pryor is a victim of very selective, and wrongheaded, sentence by the NFL. Pryor might not pan out as an NFL player. But once he signs that contract, he’s a professional. He should be able to get in the games right away.