In case the NFL lockout cast any doubt, Thursday was the best reminder yet that Roger Goodell still runs the NFL, and Roger Goodell still plans on running the NFL however he damn well pleases.
After leaving Terrelle Pryor twisting in the wind for the past few weeks, waiting for the NFL to rule on his eligibility for the 2011 season, the NFL finally granted him a place in this year's supplemental draft, but it came with an asterisk. He'll be allowed to play in the NFL, but only after he serves the same five-game suspension he was supposed to serve at Ohio State this season.
For Pryor, it's better than the alternative; his five-game suspension at Ohio State turned into permanent ineligibility and a five-year ban from campus, basically because the Buckeyes tried to turn him into a scapegoat for the scandal that ultimately cost Jim Tressel his job. (Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel had a great column on that dynamic a few months ago.) So for Pryor, because he'll ultimately get to play football in 2011, Thursday's news is ultimately encouraging.
But still. The whole point of the supplemental draft is to provide an opportunity for players who, for one reason or another, can't play in college. If you're old enough and the NFL wants you, the supplemental draft provides a way for kids to capitalize on their economic opportunity. It's up to NFL teams to decide how heavily to weigh the transgressions that led to a prospect's departure.
The league office took matters into its own hands, though, and while suspending Pryor for the first five games doesn't kill his economic opportunity, it certainly makes him a less attractive prospect, particularly since he won't even be allowed to practice. So, make no mistake--there's a good chance that Roger Goodell cost Terrelle Pryor money on Thursday.
It's all kind of baffling, especially if you make the following assumptions.
- Assume: That Terrelle Pryor broke NCAA rules at Ohio State.
- Assume: That, considering the millions generated by college football at a school like Ohio State and the lack of proportional benefits, NCAA rules defy basic business logic.
- Assume: What Pryor did wasn't illegal in the eyes of the law.
- Assume: Whatever benefits Pryor accepted as a Buckeye pale in comparison to whatever he may have been worth on a free market.
- Assume: The NFL represents said free market, and by leaving Ohio State, Pryor will be free to pursue economic opportunities that'd been denied by the NCAA.
...But that's where it all unravels. Like Pryor's newfound eligibility, there's an asterisk next to "free market" as far as the NFL's concerned. In 2011, the NFL market's only as "free" as Roger Goodell allows.
That's why Michael Vick went to Philadelphia instead of Buffalo, it's why players can get punished without ever committing a crime, and it's why Roger Goodell and the NFL can be arrogant enough to keep Terrelle Pryor off the field until mid-October.
Goodell assumes that nobody will cry foul if the NFL protects the supposed integrity of its unofficial farm system, the NCAA, at the expense of a 22 year-old kid. Goodell assumes that nobody will challenge his rulings, lest they risk losing favor with the most powerful league on the planet. And Goodell assumes that even if someone did challenge him with a lawsuit, the NFL would be protected by its cushy anti-trust exemption. In other words, Goodell assumes he can do whatever he wants.
And if you assume that will ever change with Goodell in power, Thursday was your reminder.
With that, let's get into Talking Points...
Michael Vick Stops Being Fake And Starts Getting Real. God, an NFL Real World would be so cool. But where were we? Yes, Vick. The note above (about Vick and Buffalo) comes from a GQ profile that hit the web Thursday morning. In it, Vick opens up about the free agent process that preceded his return to the NFL:
"I think I can say this now, because it's not going to hurt anybody's feelings, and it's the truth," Vick tells me a few weeks after the commencement ceremony. "I didn't want to come to Philadelphia. Being the third-team quarterback is nothing to smile about. Cincinnati and Buffalo were better options." Those two teams wanted him and would've allowed him to start, but after meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell and other reps from the NFL, Vick was convinced—and granted league approval—to sign with Philly.
It's all a refreshing departure from the uber-PC, micromanaged Michael Vick we've come to know and ignore over the past 24 months. It's not that Vick's contrition felt fake (okay, maybe a little), but morseo, he's spent the past two years on high alert, and as a result, never really said anything interesting. He drops his guard down here, and helps explain why moralizing over his misdeeds is more complicated than you think.
Not that Vick and his PR army haven't been trying to push the dogfighting down as many paragraphs as possible. Vick seems to think the only people who still care are reporters. "They are writing as if everyone feels that way and has the same opinions they do. But when I go out in public, it's all positive, so that's obviously not true."
"Yeah, you got the family dog and the white picket fence, and you just think that's all there is. Some of us had to grow up in poverty-stricken urban neighborhoods, and we just had to adapt to our environment. I know that it's wrong. But people act like it's some crazy thing they never heard of. They don't know."
Maybe The Best Thing On The Internet. Fake Prokhorov: "Stern David should relax. Let owners lead. Enjoy custom staff of thirteen supermodels and luxury beverage. Stern likes stocky loud women of Orient. The Prokhorov oblige with whole basketball team of them. Wives, they know nothing Stern David. Let live life of luxury with Thai lady wrestler. And yes all ladies. Prokhorov hires men of knowledge to inspect to keep Bangkok Surprise from ruffling Stern David hair."
Like When Miami Administrators Called Out USC's For Violations. I guess that makes Paul Dee the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of college football.
More Miami-Ness. SB Nation's Miami blog is making a lot of sense here.
Long Live Arvydas! A great read from Jonathan Abrams at Grantland.
A Long Digression On Oreos. I've never been a big fan of Oreos, and here's why: They taste great at first, but if you have one, you automatically want two. That's not a problem on its own, but then, the more Oreos you eat, the more they crumble all over you, and after you have four or five (or ten), you end up sitting there covered in little black Oreo dust. It's bad enough that you've just eaten four or five (or ten) cookies when you only wanted one or two, but just in case you had any self-respect left, you look down and realize that you're covered in tiny Oreo crumbs. It's terrible. So, I guess what I'm saying is, if you buy the new Triple Double Stuff Oreos, it's basically a way of announcing to the world that you've just f***ing given up.
Cookies and cream ice cream, though? That's what's up.
MMA Stars Spend Their Free Time Exactly As You Imagined. Here's Brock Lesnar using a military sniper rifle to pick off a bunch of helpless prarie dogs and test different kinds of ammunition.
"To see what these different sized bullets do to these animals is good research."
Finally, Michael Irvin Gets The Last Word. At long last, we have Michael Irvin's response to Yachthookergate. Here's an excerpt, and the full transcript's over at Sports Radio Interviews.
I would have fallen into that. I would fall into it. Listen I wasn’t able to handle at 19,18, 20. I wasn’t even able to handle it at 30. Thirty-five? I just got here at forty-five! I just got here. If you would have offered me boats, women, and my hands are up in the air. ... The football part I am going to whether he is there or not. The other stuff he is making easy like boats. Dawg boats? Come on man get on the boat. We are going to go out on a boat. We got some women. Well we are out of practice at 3:30. I will meet you over there at 4. That is just what you say. I am sorry. That’s the truth. I called him a snake and rapist because think about it this this way…he’s snaking people, but you are a rapist. How do you walk into someone’s home. Forget football. Forget the University of Miami. I don’t care about it. How do you walk into someone’s home and sit and eat dinner with them? Watch and look at their kids? Look at all the things in their home that they worked hard over the years to gather and then you take a check and then you go and blow away all of their savings? Man it doesn’t get any lower than this.
And now, let's re-watch the most terrifying pep talk in college football history.
Starting at about the 40-second mark: