May 09, 2012
As most of you read yesterday, Jim Trotter over at Sports Illustrated spoke with former Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor about his first season in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders. The article gave us a lot of insight into the mind of a young man who was thrust, of his own accord, into a situation in which he probably was not yet ready. It outlined how Pryor almost gave up football after questioning his love for the game.
It gave us a look inside Pryor's first year with the Silver and Black and how, for a good portion of the season, he was an outsider looking in as he served his five game suspension for "manipulating the sanctity of the supplemental draft" or some such nonsense. He couldn't talk to coaches, work out with his team, or even get his paychecks as they are distributed by the team. Then, once his suspension was lifted, he was wary of approaching the coaches as they prepared for game days. Pryor felt similar to the last guy picked in kickball. Sure, he was on the team, but what could he do?
The main thing that I took away from the article was his monster work ethic, which Jim Tressel always praised him for. Pryor has spent most of the offseason here in Alameda; working on his accuracy, footwork, and field vision. The article gave us a great profile of the person that Pryor is and is working towards becoming. Yet, that was not what most people chose to focus on. Most folks chose to glom onto the few paragraphs that detailed the transgressions at Ohio State that caused his departure.
I can understand that. Most of the people that I talk to are Ohio State people. They are, understandably, still a little bitter over the whole affair. After all, one seemingly selfish individual forgot everything he had learned through Tressel's Winners Manual and went out and knowingly committed NCAA violations that ultimately cost OSU an entire season, a head coach, a bowl win against the SEC, and a bowl game in 2012. Some diehard fans will never forgive Pryor for his actions. Even fewer still accept the reasons that he gave in the SI article.
Pryor told Trotter that the initial sale of memorabilia, his 2008 Gold Pants, were sold for about $3000 so that he could send the money back to Jeanette to his mother and sister. His mom had lost her job, was behind on her rent by about four months, and was using the oven to warm the house in the winter as the utilities had been shutoff. Taken at face value, this is noble. To take care of your family could be seen as mitigating circumstance, something that Gene Smith alluded to in the initial press conference.
Yet there are still those that choose not to believe this narrative that Pryor has produced. People that saw him in designer clothing, driving nice cars, and generally living the rockstar life were wary at the "I was just helping my mom" excuse. I even hesitate to call it an "excuse." It's a reason. To these people that saw and interacted with Pryor on a daily basis, these claims were preposterous. Even to those that have never met him, the idea that he did it to send money back home doesn't jive with him driving a Nissan 350Z just before he bolted for the NFL.
What saddens me most about this whole affair is that the same people that unabashedly cheered for Pryor on every snap now view him as persona non grata. I get the feeling that some people are seriously pissed off at Pryor and Pryor alone for the loss of the 2011 season. How soon they forget that there were 5 other men in Scarlet and Gray that were also involved, not the least of which occupied the Head Coach's office in the WHAC. When you boil it all down, the 2011 season could have been salvaged had one person simply pointed his mouse at the "Forward" button and clicked. The motivations behind Tressel not sending the information he had on to compliance is not a topic that I am going to get into in this article. Those theories have been bandied about for over a year and a half now.
Then there is ESPN. I don't even know where to start with these guys. Brian Bennett of the Big Ten Blog drew the short straw to do the writeup on this and, as usual, kowtowed to his employer's agenda. Here's a tip Brian. When the NCAA has investigated Pryor and found zero evidence of an infraction occurring, that's probably a good indication that it didn't occur. For instance, you referenced the ESPN story about how Pryor was receiving a steady stream of checks from Dennis Talbott for signing memorabilia so that Talbott could sell it. I, as well as many others, have talked with Talbott. He categorically denies giving Pryor any monies. In fact, the NCAA declined to even contact Talbott as part of their investigation.
To me, that doesn't sound like the NCAA found the claim from a former roommate's brother all that credible. Yet you did, and went so far as to make yourself look the fool when you brought it up in this blog post. Had you done the barest of research, or maybe sent a text to your cohort Rittenberg, you would have known these facts and saved some face. Heck, maybe you did and decided to run with it anyway. It wouldn't be the first time that someone from the Worldwide Leader crafted the narrative to fit their own preconceived notions. Probably won't be the last, either.
I chose to view the article for the main point. Pryor is a man that was considering quitting the game of football because he questioned his love for the game. He questioned his own motivations. Yet when he found them, he poured himself into them. He is not afraid of Matt Leinart coming to take his backup role. If anything, he welcomes the challenge.
Terrelle Pryor is a man that made mistakes in college, for whatever reason. He's owned up to them and moved on. So have I.