Terrelle Pryor (above) has the chance to be bigger than the Sugar Bowl, the NFL and himself. He could be Washington's third-consecutive African-American Opening Day QB, signaling America's social progress.
Drew Rosenhaus was half right. Terrelle Pryor has all-time greatness left in him yet.
Not for why you'd think. In the past 20 minutes, he hasn't refined his accuracy, still a major concern for most. And unless his 'exploring' major at Ohio State incorporated time travel, he's not polishing his past any time soon.
More simply, it's because Pryor is black.
Pryor's camp is out campaigning in advent of the supplemental draft, in front of every camera and front-office that will listen.
Tentative already, considering how few supplemental players have panned out and the cost—teams sacrifice a pick in the following year's April draft that corresponds with the round a supplemental choice is taken—conventional shot-callers like Ozzie Newsome (Ravens), Bill Polian (Colts) and Bill Belichick (Patriots) won't roll the dice. Not on Pryor. Not in late July/early August.
But Dan Snyder, rich and risky to the point of ridiculousness, might.
Let's say he does, and takes Pryor as a passer. And, considering his rocky quarterbacking situation (Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman? Yikes...) and knack for making noise, Pryor starts on opening day.
Could Washington giving Pryor a chance signal better opportunity for black quarterbacks in the NFL?
Crazier things have happened...
But historically speaking, they haven't.
It would be the first time in NFL history that the same team trotted out three different African-American Opening Day starting quarterbacks in consecutive years.
1.) Jason Campbell
2.) Donovan McNabb
3.) Terrelle Pryor (potentially)
If that doesn't get the back-of-your-neck hairs standing at attention, you don't have a pulse.
Or social consciousness. Digest that. Consider the statement that would be made about America's social progress. Despite everything stacked against African-Americans in this country—wage disparity, higher incidence of disease, criminal victimization and regional racism—they've persisted, now breaking into this final frontier.
For whatever reason, NFL quarterbacking hasn't been forgiving to African-Americans. Every so often, someone rumbles about prejudices, like John Feinstein's read on Mike Shanahan's knocks on McNabb last November. Others still speculate about teams showing less patience with black quarterbacks, like Jason Campell, shuttled from Washington in 2009 after a near-pristine start to the 2008 season.
But even when there isn't undertone, innuendo or blatant bigotry (Google: 'Rush Limbaugh' and 'McNabb'), the plight of the black quarterback has been blunt.
Doug Williams, the Super Bowl XXII MVP who dazzled for five touchdowns in the game's second quarter (and whooped up on John Elway, 42-10, no less), lasted but a few years in Washington, before injuries and odds and Mark Rypien overtook him. Being the first black Super Bowl-winning QB didn't matter.
Williams would've been an outlier regardless of race, given his small-school roots (Grambling State) and from-nowhere ascension. But even guys as touted as they come have crumbled under center.
Tennessee made Vince Young the third overall pick in 2006, looking not to replace Steve McNair's color, but a decade of quality. Young fizzled after a Pro Bowl rookie year, making more headaches and headlines than late 2010 hire Mike Munchak could handle. (Young is expected to be released as soon as league rules permit.)
And don't consider the Titans—the same club that locked McNair out of team facilities to shield his trade value—a model franchise for equal opportunity, either.
The list goes on...and on...and on. Some flashed in the pan, like Daunte Culpepper, whose buoyant career waned after injury. Some were productive, but re-assigned jobs, like Kordell Stewart and the estimated 33 percent of black quarterbacks drafted to play another position.
Others still, like McNabb...well...you know the stories. Booed on draft day. Phantom puker. Loser of four straight NFC Championships he was favored to win. Ran outta town.
Warren Moon is his race's only Hall of Fame quarterback, a nod mostly out of homage for his work in another country. And as hopeful as the Michael Vick redemption narrative reads so far, there's plenty left to be written.
In some ways, the movement has already started moving. That Philadelphia warmed to Vick long before Ws fell and jaws dropped was telling, as was Cam Newton being the first to step to bear hug Commissioner Goodell.
Newton was technically the first prospect for this role, given the eery possibility that Dan Snyder would go all Thomas Dimitrioff and trade this and next year's draft to scoop Newton at No. 1 overall. And considering their baggage—Newton doubles as poster child for bounty hunting; Pryor imploded 'The Ohio State'—both players give NFL teams more-than-enough reasons to pass, less any preference owners may have for conventional, white quarterbacks.
That should register twice: once for opportunity, the other indifference. Not only does there seem a healthy inflow of black quarterbacks--the marker of their presence in lower ranks--but owners don't tap the faces of multi-billion dollar corporations (with a net worth of $1.1 billion, the Redskins rank No. 2 on Forbes list of most valuable sports franchises).
Wonder what that means for Corporate America, and catching up on ethnic equity in board rooms.
Isn't that Jackie Robinson's legacy? And that of Hank Aaron (and Barry Bonds) after him? And, more broadly and politically speaking, Barack Obama? It wasn't so much that they broke the color barrier, downed the home run record (twice) and perched in the Oval Office, but that they could.
As could others after, and much less painlessly.
Maybe Pryor won't be great. Maybe he won't be historic.
Maybe he won't even be a Redskin.
But that we can dream, hope and maybe live the possibility seems accomplishment enough.