Goodell’s heavy-handedness with players has been both welcomed and ridiculed –often at the same time – since he took office in 2006. Yet the Commish not only overstepped his boundaries with his decision to suspend Oakland’s rookie, he instantly put Pryor at the forefront of a fight that could have long and lasting ramifications both in the NFL and the NCAA.
Pryor was punished by Goodell for transgressions he made while in college. Not in the pros, but in college. While a student at Ohio State, not an employee anywhere in the NFL.
How ludicrous is it? The suspension was handed down even before Pryor had declared for the supplemental draft. Yet it took more than two weeks after that before Pryor’s college coach at Ohio State, Jim Tressel, received any type of discipline.
Tressel joined the Colts as a consultant after leaving the Buckeyes, and it was Indianapolis that handed down the punishment – a six-game suspension. The league let it be known that it had told the Colts to do something regarding Tressel or it would – yet there are some in the NFL offices who deny Tressel was even on Goodell’s radar.
Several former NFL players have come out hard against Pryor’s suspension, but it’s the players who are still in college and those yet to even get there are what are at stake. If Goodell is permitted to freely punish players and coaches for problems they had in college, there’d be a pretty long line of people in the suspended line.
Many assume now that Tressel has been dealt with that Pryor should or will drop his appeal. Nonsense. If anything, he should go harder. Whatever his market value was, it undoubtedly took a big hit when Goodell told the league’s 32 owners Pryor would be facing a five-game suspension.
Thankfully Al Davis didn’t think twice about drafting him.
Now Pryor has to show that same gumption to stand up to Goodell and fight the good fight. His legacy – and the future of all future NFL rookies – could hinge on it.