With the articles never ending on the recent Terrelle Pryor and Ohio State scandal...one more won’t hurt.
Looking at these recent events over and over again it is easy to get sucked into thinking about how bad this is. Although the things that have transpired with Pryor I don’t agree with, is it really a surprise that it happened?
Listen, we live in a society that rewards greatness to the exponential degree and if your greatness and success has to do with sports it’s even more acclaimed. We love our athletes and being a sports fan I am the first to say that I love my athletes too. The thing that is interesting to me is that when something doesn’t go right and these types of scandals arise, we are shocked! How? How can we act so naïve to situations like this? The fan is the most hypocritical “being” out there. We sing our favorite athletes’ song and shower them with invincibility but when they make a mistake or misjudgment we come down so hard on them.
Athletes in America are with no doubt placed above the law. Whether it may be getting out of a speeding ticket or receiving a lesser sentence to manslaughter, we recognize fame as a “get out of jail free card”.
Take a look back at just the past FIVE years. We have: Michael Vick (Dog Fighting), Plaxico Burress (Gun charges), Donte Stallworth (DUI Manslaughter), and Gilbert Arenas (Gun charges). Yet ALL of these athletes are currently or will be playing in their respective sports soon.
So shouldn’t we expect this behavior? Especially from a twenty one-year-old kid who has been told he is the greatest ever since probably middle school. One of my favorite quotes is: “Athletes think they can just get away with anything.” Yet, no one sees that it is because WE let them.
“I feel like I’m taking CRAZY PILLS!” -Mugatu
An argument may be that these are professional athletes and they are spoiled rich kids and we expect this out of them. Though that is true, the reason the collegiate problems are viewed as much worse is because it is still such a new issue in a way. Yes, there have been issues with boosters and wealthy fans assisting teams and players for years (30for30 Films: The Pony Express). Seeing the problem and dealing with the problem are very different.
Lately it seems that the NCAA authority has decided to lay the hammer down on disobedience in programs. Tennessee, Southern California, UCONN, and Michigan have all been used as examples in the recent past. It is very evident that they don’t have the most efficient regulations and that they are still learning how to deal with these issues that won’t go away. I would go on to say that the process of punishments for these rule violations are still uncharted waters in the grand scheme of the NCAA.
If you are an Ohio State fan or not, you have to recognize the fact that Terrelle Pryor is an amazing talent and a star. At the moment Pryor is still a college star in my mind. With that said, in my opinion if you’re a star and you’ve worked your butt off for years and years of your life, why not be able to make a little money on the side?
Now while I can’t justify what Pryor did because he knew the rules and he chose to break them, I can understand why he took the risk. I don’t want to get into all of the arguments but my resolution to the issue would be that athletes cannot “get paid to play”. Yet, if they have enough star power in college to make additional funds doing simple things like signing jerseys, taking pictures, and doing radio shows I have no problem with that.
As long as there is a system in place with the University, to monitor and make sure that these supplemental channels don’t impede on the athlete’s performance or take anything away from their academic and athletic responsibilities, I think it is feasible.
For the athletes that don’t bear that star power, a free education and living expenses are a good payment in itself.
I also personally work with a Division-I AA program and I see how much free clothing and perks the athletes receive from the sponsor. This is D-2 we’re talking about here, I can’t begin to imagine what a Penn State, Ohio State, Florida, and UCLA athlete receives in terms of perks and clothing. This is free clothes for four years.
Now constantly programs in trouble begin to play the blame game. Pointing the finger, although a fun game to play, isn’t really something you can do here completely. I say that because there were too many parties involved for it to just be “that one person’s fault”.
Ohio State Athletics is to blame. Jim Tressel is to blame. Terrelle Pryor is to blame. NCAA is to blame.
The way I see it though is that someone can be given more of the blame, not all of it. In this case I would have to give that to Jim Tressel. I mean Tressel of the violations and said he’d handle it and didn’t. If we have learned anything in the recent history of athletic issues, its that its not the crime that gets you in trouble, it’s the attempt to cover up that crime.
Listen, Tressel wanted to win. Terrelle Pryor supplied him with that winning. Simple enough.
It reminds of a movie, Antitrust, where Computer CEO Tim Robins gives his employees permission to “get creative” with how they generate new products. This the audience finds out includes killing programmers for their ingenious ideas. All the while Tim Robins is given plausible deniability for the actions of his employees. Remind you of anyone?
This is where blame can be given to both Ohio State athletics and Jim Tressel.
There are many rumors that Tressel coddled Pryor, babied him, and treated him with a different demeanor than all the other players. These may be just rumors but it has been heard from many different assistant coaches at one time or another. Pryor was given a long leash by Tressel, when what he needed a short one.
Even looking back to his signing day announcement antics it could be seen he had the potential to be an ego maniac handful. Pryor had a date set to announce his decision* of where he would attend college. He then pushed it back over a month keeping people on their toes the entirety of that wait. Sports Illustrated hailed Pryor’s collegiate announcement as “the most anticipated in history”.
*Side note: I love how LeBron holds a “Decision” and he is the villain, yet time and time again college athletes with egos do the same but it is “how it should be”.
It all goes back to the idea of how much leeway we give these athletes and how we tell them they can do no wrong. Think for a second on if someone kept telling you on a daily basis you were the best “______”. Wouldn’t you start to believe it at some point?
Michael Jordan has been dubbed the greatest to ever play the game, but we get upset sometimes at how cocky he is. Hypocrisy at it’s finest.
This is why when it comes to Tressel, I have no sympathy for him. He recruited this kid, followed him, talked with him, knew his past and didn’t bother, and frankly didn’t care, to put more effort into protecting his valued commodity. OSU was winning so why worry about it.
With Pryor, I give him blame too, as I stated he knew the rules and broke them but with his issues I can rationalize as to how an 18-year-old kid in his position can progress into thinking he’s untouchable.
Pryor’s future is the next thing on everyone’s mind. All of the early examples of troubled athletes were professional players. The closest that comes to mind to Pryor’s situation would be former Oklahoma State wideout Dez Bryant. (OSU coincidence?)
For those who don’t know of Dez Bryant’s situation, during the 2009 season he was ruled ineligible for the rest of the season on October 7 for not fully disclosing his relationship with Deion Sanders to the NCAA. The NCAA was concerned his meetings with Sanders were involving him in being connected with an agent before he was allowed.
Though these aren’t exactly the same, a NCAA violation is a NCAA violation. At the time of his issues, similar to Pryor, Dez Bryant’s future was in question also. He went on to continue working in his time off to maintain and develop his skills into a star NFL receiver being drafted 24th overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2010 Draft.
Now the speculation has been whether he will enter the UFL, the AFL, and the CFL, but Pryor’s attorney has stated that he is not interested in these leagues and will focus his efforts on the NFL. With no offense to any of these leagues, Pryor’s raw talent trumps any of them. I believe it would be a wasted year for Pryor. He can surround himself with great talent to train and become stronger to prepare himself for the NFL or enter these sub par organizations. Sorry C-U-A-FL.
At this point since the 2011 NFL Draft has passed the Supplemental NFL Draft would be the next option. It is scheduled to take place from mid-to-late July 2011 assuming the lockout doesn’t affect it. The Supplemental Draft is a funny thing and if you’re like me you may have had no idea it even existed. Now that’s got to tell you something right there.
In the history of the Supplemental Draft, which started in 1977, only 40 players have been taken. Of these forty players only five of them have been quarterbacks. Looking at all the players’ current history it only took going back to 2005 to see the pattern that these players couldn’t make a splash in the NFL.
Many if not most have become non-working free agents or have had to move down to the AFL. Even recent picks that are still in the NFL are not getting much playing time and are backups, with the exception of Jared Gaither of the Ravens.
Quarterbacks in particular, which is what Pryor wants to be in the NFL, have had very limited success coming from the Supplemental Draft. Of the five quarterbacks taken, who by average played nine years in the NFL, only the great Bernie Kosar was able to find real success. All the others had horrific passer ratings (66.4,66.0,67.9,63.8) and negative TD-INT ratios.
Now I’m not saying that it is impossible to be great coming out of the Supplemental Draft but history doesn’t lie and it often tells the future. By the way, the last time a quarterback was taken in the Supplemental Draft was in 1992.
The NFL lockout is uncertain, sure, but for owners and players not to arrange something in the near future is ridiculous. Too much money would be left on the table for both parties. We will have the NFL this coming season and there is not a doubt in my mind about that.
Pryor has talent and it shouldn’t be wasted in the Supplemental Draft. Many compare his skill set to Cam Newton, who was just taken #1 overall in the real draft. If he wants that kind of money and attention the Supplemental Draft is not the place to do it. It just isn’t the right forum for his great talent to be showcased and bought for a discount by NFL owners.
To Terrelle Pryor:
You messed up big time. You let the fame and lifestyle go to your head. We are to blame for it and you are to blame for it. Having said that, what you have in abundance is talent and that is something that shouldn’t go to waste. Bring that talent to the NFL but not this year. Wait and perfect your craft. Let the noise die down, which it will inevitably do. (Remember when the A-Rod scandal was? February 24th, 2009. I forgot too.)
Surround yourself with the right people, the right coaches, and create the right mentality for yourself. You will have to work harder than you probably have ever had to. If that is something you can do and prove that you deserve that big #1 pick NFL paycheck, then people will get over the fact that you made a mistake.
As a fan of the NFL, there is nothing like watching great talent go to waste due to poor work ethic. It is truly painful to watch. No one ever wants to be the “what could have been”, so comeback to the 2012 NFL Draft and become the “what is” version of yourself.