Terrelle Pryor Suspension: Has NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Gone Too Far?
Welcome to "Tiebreak," where two sides of a hot-button issue of the day are laid out by the team at HuffPost Sports and the tie-breaking votes are cast by the readers. This week's edition features the brouhaha surrounding the five-game suspension handed down by the NFL to former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor as he gets set to enter the supplemental draft.
Point One: Suspension Is Not About Pryor Or NCAA
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is not in cahoots with the NCAA. Nor is he even near cahoots with them. And, considering the ugly revelations coming out of Miami recently, I'd imagine that he acts as if he hardly knows those guys when asked about them over hors d'oeuvres while in a luxury box at Cowboys Stadium.
Of course, it has not gone unnoticed that the five-game suspension handed down by Goodell to former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor as he gets set for the NFL's supplemental draft equals the number of games that he would have been suspended had he stayed on with the Buckeyes.
Make no mistake, though, Pryor's suspension is all about the Commish and has nothing do with upholding the wishes of the NCAA. A quick glance at most NFL rosters reveals that Goodell, the father of the NFL's personal conduct policy, is not in the slightest bit interested in enforcing the lightly-observed rules of the NCAA. If anything, the similarity in the duration of the suspension is a dig at the ineffectual NCAA enforcers.
Even worse, this suspension isn't even about the rules of the NFL. After all, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told FoxSports.com in an email that the five-game ban has nothing to do with the NCAA and was handed down because "Pryor made decisions that undermined the integrity of the eligibility rules for the NFL draft."
Well, this explanation begs another question. If Pryor had really circumvented the rules of the draft in order to gain entrance to the league then why let him enter into the supplemental draft at all?
Perhaps it's because merely barring Pryor from the supplemental draft wouldn't have generated nearly as much attention as this five-game ban. The suspension is a reminder to every player already in the league, and even those aspiring to get there, that they must kiss the ring. It's an audacious bid by Goodell to project his power into the college ranks. If Goodell were punishing Pryor for flouting the NCAA rules or if he were correctly enforcing those of his own league then there would be no complaint here. However, he's acting unilaterally to burnish his reputation as a disciplinarian and set another precedent for him to cite when meting out future punishment.
There is no doubt that the NCAA needs help enforcing its rules but to think that the NFL, which is a money-making machine, is interested in, or capable of, doing so is as naive as thinking that no one is going to ask questions when a college athlete rolls around campus in several luxury cars during his time in school.
Point Two: Somebody's Got To Do It
The memo sent out by the NFL that revealed that Terrelle Pryor will be forced to sit out the first five games of his NFL career has sparked tremendous outrage in the sports world. Although an NFL spokesman told Fox Sports that the NFL’s suspension is not related to the five game suspension Pryor was handed by the NCAA in December as a result of receiving improper benefits, it’s not difficult to assume the two are related given the length of the NFL’s suspension, and the fact that the league referred to Pryor's college infractions in their memo.
According to ESPN's Joe Schad, a source close to Pryor has said, "There is a cooperative environment between the NFL and NCAA. But there should be concern that the NFL would become an enforcement arm of the NCAA."
My question is: Why the concern?
As we’ve learned in recent years from various major programs--most notably USC, Ohio State and Miami--high profile college players aren’t intimidated by the NCAA. This is a governing body that has become a caricature of itself as a result of harshly punishing certain players for accepting a complimentary tic tac, while concurrently overlooking schools that, in the case of Miami, have boosters that allegedly provide cash payments and sex parties for their players
Playing in the NFL is a job and Roger Goodell is the boss. If you mess up badly at your old work place or perform poorly in college, in most cases, you’ll have trouble finding a job. Just as there are standards for going from high school football to college, perhaps there should be a barometer character-wise for making the leap to the NFL, just as their is with any other coveted profession. Most employees that work at other professions must go through a background check before being hired--Why should the NFL completely ignore prior off-the-field infractions of incoming players?
The odds are that college players are not going to tread carefully to maintain their amateur status for fear that if they get caught in the midst of wrongdoing, the school they’re attending won’t be allowed to play in the Poinsettia Bowl four years after they graduate. But if Goodell sets the precedent from this point forward that if a player is punished by the NCAA, it will carry over to their standing with their future employer, well, there’s a chance that those extra benefits may not seem as worth it to these college players. The legitimacy of not compensating players monetarily for their services in college football is a completely different argument all together, but in the framework that currently exists, this may be the best way to maintain an iota of honesty and legitimacy in the sport.
Yes, it may seem like an extreme measure to take, but perhaps given recent circumstances, this is a time when extreme measures must be taken.
Tiebreak: Cast your vote and add your take in the comments section to decide this debate.
DISCLAIMER: Both points of view in this post are laid out to illustrate the opposing sides of a current debate among sports fans. They do not (necessarily) reflect the opinions of the editorial team at HuffPost Sports.