From the moment Terrelle Pryor came out of high school, he has not been a person whose word can be trusted. That disingenuous nature those in football have come to know continued Thursday when he met with commissioner Roger Goodell about the appeal of his suspension—something he said he wouldn’t do.
Pryor’s transgressions began when he came out of high school as the top recruit in the nation. Well, actually it began before that, when he was still in high school and he verbally committed to playing basketball at Pittsburgh. But we will just write that off as a youth decision.
By the time Pryor graduated, he had become the top prep recruit in the nation. He had plenty of schools wanting to offer him a scholarship, and he listened to just about all of them. He visited LSU, Penn State, Oregon, Michigan, and Ohio State among his options. Some thought he knew where he wanted to go all along, but still continued to take calls from other interested schools and make visits.
After he eliminated the possibility of playing at Pitt, the decision appeared to be down to Michigan and Ohio State, two bitter rivals the likes of which most recruits typically know the side on which they land. But then Pryor added to the confusion when Penn State and Oregon called and he further delayed his decision to visit those schools.
By the time he announced his decision, every other recruit in the nation had long since signed their letters. He had the entire sports nation’s eyes, and certainly those from his list of finalists, hanging on his every word to find out where he had decided to go. In the end it was the school most thought he would be attending in the first place—Ohio State.
Once he got to the school, he soon began driving cars from a local dealership which by itself seems innocent enough. But when you consider he drove eight different cars from that same dealership over his time in Columbus, that is suspicious to say the least. Add that there were a reported two dozen or so Terrelle Pryor autographed jerseys at the dealership and it really makes you wonder. As an isolated incident perhaps you give him the benefit of the doubt. But that was far from isolated.
There was also the incident involving the exchange of autographed jerseys for tattoos. That was the one that got he and some of his fellow Buckeye teammates suspended. But unlike most cases of NCAA rules violations, their suspensions were not imposed immediately. They were curiously allowed to play in that season’s Bowl game and their five game suspension was to begin the following season.
This delayed suspension was on the condition that they sign an agreement that they would return for the next season to serve that suspension. Pryor was a junior and he signed the agreement. But as more evidence came out of Ohio State transgressions, coach Jim Tressel was forced to resign.
With Tressel out as head coach, Pryor was freed from his obligation to his now former coach. Some say he reneged on his agreement to return for his senior season and applied for the NFL supplemental draft. Others suspect the new evidence surrounding Ohio State had the school forcing Pryor out so that he was not obligated to speak to NCAA investigators. Either way, it doesn’t look good for Pryor.
On the one hand, he looks like he is backing out of an agreement and therefore his word. On the other hand it looks like the improper benefits we know him to have received may just be scratching the surface.
Ironically, Pryor was seen driving one of the aforementioned cars he received to a team meeting hours after coach Jim Tressel’s forced resignation. Here is where it gets deep. At the time, Pryor’s Ohio driving privileges were suspended. According to Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles records, Pryor was ticketed in November 2008 for driving 99 in a 65-mph zone and in March 2010 for driving 94 mph in a 65-mph zone. He summarily had his license suspended. But Pryor felt that he was entitled to drive, so he did.
So just after backing out of a signed agreement (or being forced out, which could be worse), he was illegally driving the latest of eight cars he allegedly received improperly after his coach had been fired in part due to the improper benefits he had been receiving.
Pyror would then ask to enter the 2011 NFL supplemental draft. The NFL took a long time to rule on whether to allow Pryor into the supplemental draft because technically he didn’t fit the criteria for entry. The supplemental draft is designed for players who were unable to return to their school. Pryor was seen as being perfectly able to return to his school. The way they saw it, at least initially, Pryor left of his own accord.
He eventually was allowed to enter the supplemental draft in part because he told Commissioner Goodell that he would accept his ruling to uphold the NCAA-imposed five game suspension without appeal. The suspension was Goodell’s way of discouraging future players from trying to enter the NFL to escape NCAA suspensions. It soon became yet another agreement of which Pryor has since backed out after the fact.
Once he received word that he would be allowed in the supplemental draft, Pryor immediately scheduled a private workout for NFL scouts. Sixteen NFL team scouts showed up for this workout. In this workout it was noted that he excelled in every area except quarterback skills. This led to the inevitable question of whether he would be willing to play another position besides quarterback, to which he said he would.
He knew that his agreeing to play at any position would raise his stock with those teams who may not have been impressed with his quarterbacking skills but saw his supreme athletic skills and success at a big time program as a recipe for NFL success a different position.
Also at his workout, he ran an impressive 4.4 40 yard dash, which of course meant the Raiders were interested. After his 40 time and his apparent position flexibility, his stock was placed at the fourth round level. Unfortunately the Raiders didn’t have a round four selection available to them. So if they wanted him, they would have to use their third round selection. They did just that.
The Raiders announced after they drafted him that their intention was to try him at quarterback first and foremost. There is a new CBA rule which allows teams to carry a third active emergency quarterback on the roster. So it makes sense to have Pryor on the roster as a quarterback. That way while he is developing, he is not taking up another player’s roster spot.
The team drafted him and four day later he arrived, just in time for the final day of camp. Then in his post-practice interview, he was asked the same question about switching positions. This time his answer was different. He said unequivocally that he was a quarterback.
In that same conversation, he reiterated that he accepts the suspension handed down by the commissioner and would serve it without appeal, recanting on a previous statement and then giving his word on something else that later proved to be untrue. We had little reason not to believe him at the time but with his current appeal on top of the other statements he has made and actions to the contrary, it has become difficult to believe him when he speaks.
In the end, his five game suspension will very likely be upheld. The commissioner rarely changes his stance on these matters, especially when he considers a player’s actions not to be in keeping with what he promised initially. Pryor should consider himself lucky that after all this, a five game suspension is all he receives. The team as well as its fans only hope that there are no more shady revelations to come and that after his suspension is up, Pryor can move on with his career with a little more wisdom, humility, and maturity.