In the United States legal system, a defendant cannot be tried twice for the same crime. Apparently the NFL does not believe in this idea.
Early this morning, the league announced to its 32 teams that a ruling had finally been made in the Terrelle Pryor case. The Ohio State quarterback, whose eligibility for the supplemental draft was in question, was declared eligible for the draft.
Pryor's eligibility, however, came with one small caveat. The quarterback must sit out the first five games of the regular season. He is eligible to practice and play during the preseason, but once the regular season starts, he will be exiled from whichever NFL team picks him.
For me, Pryor has been punished enough. The NFL, however, chose to continue piling on Terrelle Pryor.
Yes, Terrelle Pryor made terrible mistakes at Ohio State, but this is not the first time a college player has been caught taking illegal benefits. This alone would not have been enough to cause the NFL to suspend him. Pryor's handling of his exit from Ohio State is where he really got himself in trouble.
Pryor can be forgiven for going about extracting himself from the Ohio State situation in the wrong way. Facing potential eligibility issues, Pryor felt his football season was in serious jeopardy. How can he be blamed for looking for a way to enter the NFL?
For a quarterback in need of further development like Terrelle Pryor, a season away from the game could seriously hinder his NFL future.
It is not fair for the NFL to punish Pryor for his indiscretions at Ohio State. The reason for the five game ban, Pryor's hiring of an agent and supposedly refusing to cooperate with the NCAA, were not an attempt by Terrelle Pryor to game the system. They were choices made by a 22-year-old put in a confusing situation.
Pryor's advisers are the ones who should face punishment if there were to be any handed down. He did not make these decisions on his own. Pryor ultimately did what he was told would be best for his future.
The NCAA ultimately ruled that Terrelle Pryor would not be eligible to play this season. That should have been enough punishment. The NFL is setting itself up for future trouble now that it is making punishments based on things that happened in the NCAA's sphere of control.
For now, Terrelle Pryor is lucky enough to be able to play for an NFL team next year. Ultimately, the suspension may not hurt him in the long run as he was unlikely to see the field in the first five games. The missed practice time is where he will really be hurt.
This fact is still not enough to outweigh the unfairness of the suspension. Terrelle Pryor is being punished enough by being forced to leave college football before he is ready. The NFL is unfairly punishing him a second time for his NCAA crimes.