Terrelle Pryor Said What?

David SingletonCorrespondent ISeptember 10, 2009

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 05:  Quarterback Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes throws a pass against the Navy Midshipmen at Ohio Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

So I am sitting in the ESPN Zone in Anaheim last weekend having breakfast and watching the Ohio State/Navy game. I looked up at the screen when Ohio State took the field and blanched a little when I looked at Terrelle Pryor’s eye black strips.

Does that strip under his left eye say “Vick?”


Nah. It had to be the lack of sleep catching up with me.

But lo and behold, Pryor really did have the word “Vick” written on his eye black.

Obviously, I wasn’t the only person who saw this; anyone near a tv screen saw what he had done.

When asked about the writing after the game, Pryor, a true sophomore, delivered this gem:

“Not everybody is the perfect person in the world…Everyone does -- kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me. I just feel that people need to give him a chance.”

Again I ask: What?

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As someone who holds a degree in communications, I’ve scratched my head over and over again trying to parse this statement and diagram these sentences.

I am puzzled.

But that leads me to this point: Terrelle Pryor has the right to express himself on his eye black if he so chooses. I may not agree with his convoluted reasoning, or with his statement, but he has that right, since there is no team or NCAA rule prohibiting this practice.

Furthermore, the idea of freedom of speech is something that most colleges and universities hold dear (or should) and consider central to their missions. The marketplace of ideas can only function if someone is allowed to make a statement that they then have to defend.

What bothers me is how inarticulate Pryor sounded in defending himself.

Maybe his words just got jumbled during the comedown after the tense victory over Navy. Maybe he would be more articulate if asked the question in another setting.

I wonder, though, how much media training players in all sports are given.

I’m not just talking about the superstars, but it should be something fundamental that every student athlete should go through.

I’m not talking about teaching student athletes the art of spin and spin control. I am referring to giving these teenagers simple training to allow them to answer questions (or teaching when they should deflect questions).

Some people are naturally more loquacious than others; the media savvy ones can handle themselves with no problem.

But everyone could use some basic assistance in knowing how to carry themselves and conduct themselves during group and one-on-one interviews.

These players are basically representatives of their institutions—and some need all the help they can get.

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