Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback Charlie Batch disagrees vehemently with the five-game suspension the NFL gave to Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor as a condition of Pryor's ability to enter the supplemental draft. Batch, who has been mentoring Pryor for years, called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell out about the move.
"He took it to another level when he said he was going to suspend Terrelle Pryor for five games and he wasn't even in the NFL last year," Batch said. "How can you do that? It's not right. It's not right at all."
Batch, who is one of the Steelers' player representatives and was heavily involved in lockout negotiations, also (sort of) brought up the possibility of an appeal of the suspension.
"I told Terrelle what he should do. I am not going to tell you what I told him, but I told him what he should do," Batch said. "Whatever the Raiders want him to do, that is what they will do."
Batch has a valid point. When Goodell refused to suspend Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib and Tennessee Titans receiver Kenny Britt for violations of the league's personal conduct policy committed during the lockout, many questioned just why Goodell felt justified in suspending Pryor, it seemed, as a way of transferring the five-game suspension given to Pryor by the NCAA after he received impermissible benefits while at Ohio State.
League spokesperson Greg Aiello said at the time that Pryor was suspended for essentially violating the spirit of the supplemental draft, which seems like a load of hooey based on one recent precedent.
In 2009, Kentucky defensive end Jeremy Jarmon was suspended for his senior year after taking what the NCAA decreed to be an illegal diuretic. Jarmon was ruled ineligible, and the NFL allowed him into the supplemental draft with no carryover punishment. He was drafted in the third round of that draft by the Washington Redskins and currently plays for the Denver Broncos.
Clearly, the NFL is trying to set a precedent with the Pryor suspension, even if the claim is that it is not. And the danger in setting a precedent with a reactive commissioner — as Goodell is and has always been — is that the scales of justice will not tip evenly for all brought before the NFL's disciplinary police. As former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was touring various NFL training camps around the time the Pryor suspension was announced, it looked very much like the NFL dealing out a personal vendetta because Tressel's career was affected by what Pryor and other players did.
As Yahoo! Sports' Jason Cole recently pointed out, it's becoming more and more difficult to take the league seriously in disciplinary matters, precisely because there are no equal standards of justice. The NFL can say that it's impossible to discipline Britt because he hasn't gone to court for his crimes, but Pacman Jones can be suspended under similar circumstances. Jeremy Jarmon can basically walk for an NCAA violation involving diuretics, but the NFL can press the StarCaps case for years and suspend Terrelle Pryor as it sees fit. There is no legal barometer, therefore there is no equal standard.
Goodell's lust for selective prosecution has been his most obvious flaw as a leader of the league, and it keeps coming home to roost.