At first glance, Terrelle Pryor's Ohio State logo eye black sticker may seem like a counterproductive embellishment on an already useless piece of uniform accoutrement.
At first glance to a defensive back, however, they may appear as something else entirely.
Eye black, in its initial concept, reduced glare to improve performance—although its chief use, until recently, has been as a war paint of sorts. Currently, with the advent of stickers and their writable surfaces, its primary use is that of a tiny billboard to show team logos, jersey numbers, or coded messages which intrigued fans are wont to Google.
Terrelle Pryor has chosen to show his team logo on his eye black since he donned cartoon bird faces on his cheeks in high school. So far, he has continued on this route by wearing a Buckeyes logo on his cheeks at Ohio State. Each sticker consists of a white circle with graphics in the center, on a dark horizontal field, and is placed just below each eye.
An eyespot, or ocellus, is an eye-like marking found on birds, butterflies, and lizards. They may be used to deceive predators or prey or to distract attention away from vulnerable parts of the body.
With respect to defensive backs in coverage, Pryor's most vulnerable body parts are his eyes, and he is the prey.
With the aid of his Officially Licensed NCAA eyespots, Pryor will make all of those predators his prey until Roger Goodell stops him.
During a split-second glance from tens of yards away, a defender attempting to read the quarterback's eyes could easily affix his attention to the white of the logo just below Pryor's eyes and miss the read before he must refocus his attention to coverage. The quarterback's “looking off” will be the most confusing they've seen since playing Madden '06 for the first time.
Even if Terrelle Pryor's current eye black logo isn't fooling DBs much now, Ohio State should improve them until they do. Ohio State and every other school should create a logo that mimics the eye and stick them on their skill players' cheeks until such devices are brought under regulation.
It's time for eye black to have an on-field purpose again.
It looks too cool to not have one.