Terrelle Pryor: Did His NFL Punishment Fit His NCAA Crime?

Alex JosephAnalyst IAugust 19, 2011

JEANNETTE, PA - AUGUST 12:  Terrelle Pryor works out at a practice facility on August 12, 2011 in Jeannette, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
JEANNETTE, PA - AUGUST 12: Terrelle Pryor works out at a practice facility on August 12, 2011 in Jeannette, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Upon being accepted into the NFL supplemental draft, Terrelle Pryor had to have thought all of his woes were behind him. 

That didn't last long. The NFL has issued a five-game suspension of Pryor in accordance with his NCAA troubles.

As I'm sure everyone is already aware, Pryor was set to miss the first five games of the NCAA season had he stayed at Ohio State. This was due to the memorabilia-for-cash scandal that has subdued Pryor, former coach Jim Tressel and the rest of the Oho State University program for the last half year. 

The scandal cost Tressel his job, and Pryor wasn't about to miss the first five games of his senior season. Instead, Pryor chose to bypass his senior season by entering the supplemental draft. By doing this, he thought he would be able to get past his suspension and still be able to receive an NFL paycheck. 

Unfortunately for Pryor, that didn't exactly work out. The question has now become, "Did Pryor's NFL punishment fit his NCAA crime?"

This question comes with mixed answers. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is making an example out of Terrelle Pryor; he wants it to be known that you can't do whatever you want in college and just expect everything to go away with no consequences.

Goodell wants to be sure that players know they can't use the NFL (his league) as a means of escape. 

But is this a valid argument?

The NFL and the NCAA are two separate entities with two separate systems. If you were to become academically ineligible, you would still be able to enter the NFL with no problems. That's why Georgia running back Caleb King is eligible for the supplemental draft with no suspension.

So what's the difference? Obviously, money is involved in Pryor's case, but both Pryor and King are ineligible to play for their universities because both players broke rules.

In Pryor's case, he sold his game pants, his plaque and his ring for $2,500 in order to (supposedly) help his mother pay the rent and utilities. 

In King's case, he failed classes and didn't take his academic responsibility seriously. But because he has played in three NCAA seasons, he is eligible for the supplemental draft, no matter the case. 

The NCAA has rules against players making money for themselves—that's why they receive a scholarship that helps pay for their schooling, rent and other personal matters. But that means when Pryor has the opportunity to make money by selling his own property, he gets penalized. 

The entire situation is pretty complex, but Pryor's attorney, David Cornwell, does a pretty good job of putting things in perspective, saying, "This is a commercial enterprise generating billions of dollars and paying these kids 13 hundred dollars a month for rent. Terrelle Pryor sold his pants, a plaque and a ring for 2,500 dollars to give money to his mother to pay rent and utilities. Ohio State University sold his jersey and made 2.4 million dollars." 

Of course, Cornwell is making Pryor out to be the "poor little boy who was just trying to help his mother," but that's his job, and his point actually makes a lot of sense. 

I'm not saying that Pryor is innocent at all—he still broke the rules. And had he stayed at Ohio State, he would have had to serve his punishment. No question. 

But the NFL is not the NCAA. While Pryor is leaving Ohio State and his troubles behind, he's also leaving behind the opportunity to be a high draft pick in next year's NFL draft—forfeiting a decent sum of money by going the supplemental route. 

Now, on top of this, he has to serve the same suspension in the NFL as he would have in the NCAA, which is going to make teams less likely to take him high. 

ESPN analyst Todd McShay, however, thinks Pryor's stock is likely to be unaffected. He should fall to about the fifth round, because if anybody drafts him it will be as a long-term investment—after all, he'll simply be a backup for a while.

If this truly is the case, Pryor would be making very little money (in terms of NFL money), and making him sit out games and practices for five weeks just puts limitations on limitations.

So have we answered whether his punishment fits or not? Probably not. This will be a never-ending debate as the answer is subjective.

Some believe that Goodell's stance is noble and just, and some believe that it's too much and irrational. 

Whatever the case, Pryor will be a part of next week's supplemental draft, and then he will officially be on an NFL roster.

But at the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves another question: What's more important—breaking a rule that says you can't sell your own property to help out your mother or, in King's case, forgoing and dismissing his academic responsibility? You know, what college is really supposed to be about.

As college football is continually in flux—forming super-conferences merely influenced by television revenue—I think the answer is pretty clear.