I’ve generally agreed with the decisions of NFL commissioner
Roger Goodell, but suspending former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor for
the first five games this season is venturing into territory where Goodell has
no authority to tread.
It’s likely that Pryor won’t play in the first five games,
anyway, because he’ll need time to learn the offense. His team, which will be
decided in Monday’s supplemental draft, will need time to assess his skills and
decide whether it will try him at quarterback, receiver or tight end first.
Pryor could be an option for a few plays a game as the season opens, but even a lover of speed
demons like Raiders owner Al Davis probably wouldn’t send Pryor onto the field
without weeks of training.
Goodell and the NFL may suspect that after the Ohio State
scandal broke, Pryor may have accepted more illegal benefits from mentor Ted
Sarniak to orchestrate his way out of college and into the NFL. That has to be
the leg the league is standing on with this suspension.
And while Pryor and his agent Drew Rosenhaus have accepted
it willingly, players union leader Scott Fujita of the Browns has already
expressed reservations over the Pandora’s box this suspension opens.
Did the league investigate Pryor’s illegal benefits before
making its decision? Did it glean information from the NCAA? Is it worried that
while Maurice Clarett’s legal battle failed to overturn the NFL’s
three-years-from-high-school-graduation eligibility rule, Pryor may have
discovered a loophole that more players could exploit?
As John Saunders on ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters” commented
Sunday morning, if Pryor has to serve a suspension, why not former USC coach
Pete Carroll with the Seattle Seahawks? Carroll fled to the pros just before
the Trojans’ woes over Heisman Trophy-winner Reggie Bush became public.
The team that selects Pryor Monday must be wary of a player
whose sense of entitlement has been through the roof since his high school
days. I still don’t believe Pryor currently has the mechanics to play
quarterback in the NFL. But there’s no doubt he has an intriguing set of
athletic skills, including the ability to glide like a gazelle. He deserves a
chance to attempt to launch his career without NFL-imposed limitations.
- When I wrote about the Indians’ Jason Kipnis recently, I had
no idea the impact his absence would make on the Tribe’s struggling offense.
Now it seems apparent that Kipnis was the spark they needed at the trading
- While Browns quarterback Colt McCoy has been impressive in
two preseason games, I didn’t like the pounding he absorbed against the Lions.
McCoy has to learn to keep himself out of harm’s way whenever possible. If the Browns are going to flirt with a .500 season (my best-case scenario at this point), McCoy has to stay healthy.
- The NFL’s new rule on kickoffs seems so ridiculous that I
don’t understand why they don’t just give teams the ball at the 20. But at
least the members of the kickoff and kickoff coverage teams will lead their
teams in cardiovascular conditioning after all those runs downfield with no one
to hit. The fact that players are ripping the rule and asking for statistics to
back the change is very telling. And when was the last time New England’s
Bill Belichick was this outspoken on anything?
- The Golf Channel's "Feherty" had an uneven start, but I was captivated by the last episode of the series -- an interview with caddies Jim "Bones" Mackay and Mike "Fluff" Cowan. Mackay and Cowan were candid with tibits about their days with Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, in Cowan's case. David Feherty's probing questions are enough that some of the comic interludes could be left out of this show and it would still be entertaining. But I'm eagerly awaiting his one-hour special with British Open champion Darren Clarke, the next schedule segment.
- I'm still applauding the PGA Championship victory of 25-year-old Keegan Bradley. Bradley is one of the best interviews in sports -- mainly for his unabashed love of his career and how lucky he feels to be on its greatest stage. He's not really a kid, but still sounded like an awestruck one at the Bridgestone Invitational and at the Memorial Tournament. When he learned of some high praise he received from Mickelson at Firestone, Bradley told a representative of his agency he couldn't believe Mickelson felt like that about him. Bradley also credited his poor Sunday showing in Akron with making him stronger down the stretch in Atlanta. I'll be curious to see if he'll have a major championship hangover that will affect his chances in the FedExCup playoffs. His aunt Pat Bradley, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, vowed to be in the gallery at the second playoff event, the Deutsche Bank Championship, Sept. 2-5 at TPC Boston. The four-tournament playoffs open Thursday with The Barclays in New Jersey.
- The continuing struggles of pitcher Ulbaldo Jimenez since his trade to the Indians make me wonder if Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd knew something about Jimenez that the Tribe brass and scouts failed to discover. It wouldn't be the first time a Cleveland front office was fleeced by an old employee. How about Ozzie Newsome pulling one over on Phil Savage in the Haloti Ngata draft-day trade?