August 15, 2011
The NFL's supplemental draft is set for Wednesday, and Terrelle Pryor still doesn't know if he'll be eligible for it.
Why the league hasn't given Pryor a ruling by now, I don't know. The theory from Pro Football Talk (where it also reports that Pryor's looking for a chance to meet with Roger Goodell by Tuesday) is that the NFL "is jerking Pryor around."
It's kind of hard to see it any other way. Again, this thing is in one day.
There's obviously a little bit of gray area in the NFL's rules regarding supplemental draft availability, or this dispute wouldn't exist. The position of Pryor's people is that the NFL will let him in. The position of the NFL is that, I don't know, it just doesn't want to. It hasn't said much about it.
Generally, the rule is made to accommodate underclassmen who didn't put themselves into the regular NFL draft in April because they wanted to play their senior year of college football, but then lost their college eligibility somewhere along the way (failure to qualify academically is a common reason).
As an example, there's Michael McAdoo of North Carolina, recently declared eligible for the 2011 supplemental draft. Entering his junior year, he was suspended by the NCAA for all of 2010 after some widespread academic fraud at UNC. At a late date, the NCAA also declared him ineligible for 2011. He turned to the supplemental draft, and they're letting him in.
Caleb King of Georgia, also looking forward to his senior season, lost his academic eligibility for 2011. He's eligible for the supplemental draft.
But Pryor continues to twist in the wind. Maybe the NFL's never had a case exactly like his before, but if it wants to rule out people in his situation, it needs to put that in its little rulebook. If it had such a rule, I'm sure we'd have seen someone from the NFL point to that rule and say, "Here. This is why Terrelle Pryor isn't eligible for the supplemental draft." But that hasn't happened. It decides these things on a case-by-case basis, and what rule it might be that keeps Pryor out, no one knows.
So here we are, looking at a guy who has had his circumstances change, and now wants to play in the NFL. Some team will want him. He hasn't done anything worse than be part of an academic fraud or fail to maintain basic academic standards. He meets all the other NFL age and eligibility requirements.
I don't know who benefits if the NFL excludes Pryor, or what kind of a principled, moral stand it is taking by excluding him. No good reason exists to deny Pryor. I'm not arguing for NFL eligibility as a birthright here, but what has Pryor done that's any worse than any number of other guys who broke college rules and are now in the NFL? Even making him wait this long seems pointless and borderline cruel. If it's going to make some senseless, vindictive ruling to keep him out of the league, it could at least do it quickly so he can make plans for playing in Canada or the UFL.
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