After considering Terrelle Pryor’s appeal Roger Goodell has chosen to uphold the five-game suspension given to the Raiders backup quarterback and continue with his dangerous precedent. Pryor will be eligible to practice and participate in all team activities following Oakland’s Oct. 9 game against the Texans.
Goodell outlined his reasoning in a press release distributed Friday afternoon, saying that in his view a poor precedent would be set by allowing Pryor to fully escape the five-game punishment given to him for his conduct at Ohio State before he decided to bolt for the NFL. He called Pryor’s actions a “deliberate manipulation of eligibility rules.”
“In my judgment, allowing players to secure their own ineligibility for college play in order to avoid previously determined disciplinary consequences for admitted conduct reflects poorly not on college football – which acted to discipline the transgressor – but on the NFL, by making it into a sanctuary where a player cannot only avoid the consequences of his conduct, but be paid for doing so.”
In his mind Goodell is evidently avoiding one poor precedent, but he’s solidifying another one that applies to players, and not coaches. The league has now formally committed itself to a disciplinary bridge with the NCAA, the farm system feeding football with an infusion of young talent every April. It’s important to keep the supplier of the valued goods happy, but it’s only important if it applies to players.
Pete Carroll abandoned his own NCAA wreckage at USC by seeking refuge in the NFL with the Seahawks, and his only punishment has been having to coach the Seahawks. Jim Tressel was at the heart of the Ohio State scandal along with Pryor, and in a gesture of good faith the Colts also bridged the NFL and NCAA by postponing his official employment as a video consultant until Week 6.
It’s highly likely that Goodell influenced the Colts, but his lack of any public announcement leaves us to wonder if the league’s bridge to the NCAA is blind to the grimy coaches currently walking up and down NCAA sidelines on Saturdays. The conduct of college football programs and the potential for involvement from coaches soon to be in the NFL is even more prevalent after the summer of Shapiro.
By hiring an agent Pryor made himself ineligible for the NCAA, a move made after he committed to the Buckeyes for the 2011 season, but also after Tressel’s spiral finally came to its conclusion. Pryor was eventually included in the league’s August supplemental draft, which is essentially a cheater’s draft and provides an avenue to pursue the NFL for players whose situations have changed since the entry draft.
Pryor made a commitment to play college football, but he made it to Tressel, which led to his change in direction. That wasn’t good enough for Goodell.
“This smacks of a calculated effort to manipulate our eligibility rules in a way that undermines the integrity of, and public confidence in, those rules. Mr. Pryor made an affirmative decision to remain in college and play for Ohio State in 2011. He later reconsidered and decided that he wanted to enter the NFL. In order to do so, he needed to forfeit his remaining college eligibility and took steps to ensure that would happen. Based on the specific facts presented here, I conclude that Mr. Pryor’s actions warranted imposition of conditions on his entry into the NFL, namely, that he serve the same five-game suspension that he had previously agreed to while at Ohio State.”
In the short-term this means the Raiders will have to wait a few more weeks before beginning to turn Pryor into a wide receiver or tight end. In the long-term it means the ramifications of college misconduct aren’t isolated on campuses anymore.
Well, for players at least.