Decision to Suspend Terrelle Pryor for Five Games for Manipulation of NFL Eligibility Rules is Affirmed

Commissioner Roger Goodell notified Terrelle Pryor today that the decision to suspend the Oakland Raiders’ quarterback for the first five games of the regular season for improperly manipulating the NFL’s eligibility rules has been affirmed. Pryor may be activated by the Raiders following their game at Houston on October 9.

Commissioner Goodell approved Pryor’s application for entry into this year’s NFL Supplemental Draft, which took place on August 22.  He was selected in the third round of the supplemental draft by the Raiders, who forfeited their third-round selection in the 2012 Draft as a result. Pryor participated in the remainder of the Raiders’ training camp after his selection.

Following are excerpts from Commissioner Goodell’s decision on Pryor’s appeal:

  • “Based on Mr. Pryor’s actions, I believe it is a fair conclusion that he intentionally took steps to ensure that he would be declared ineligible for further college play and would be able to enter the NFL via the Supplemental Draft. Taken as a whole, I found that this conduct was tantamount to a deliberate manipulation of our eligibility rules in a way that distorts the underlying principles and calls into question the integrity of those rules.”
  • “Mr. Pryor – not Ohio State or the NCAA – made the judgment that he was ineligible for college play, and then took a series of affirmative steps that were intended to, and had the effect of, accomplishing that result. Moreover, Mr. Pryor did so in order to avoid the consequences of his conduct while in college – conduct to which he had admitted and for which he had accepted a suspension – and to hasten the day when he could pursue a potentially lucrative professional career in the NFL.”
  • “This smacks of a calculated effort to manipulate our eligibility rules in a way that undermines the integrity of, and public confidence in, those rules.  Mr. Pryor made an affirmative decision to remain in college and play for Ohio State in 2011.  He later reconsidered and decided that he wanted to enter the NFL.  In order to do so, he needed to forfeit his remaining college eligibility and took steps to ensure that would happen.  Based on the specific facts presented here, I conclude that Mr. Pryor’s actions warranted imposition of conditions on his entry into the NFL, namely, that he serve the same five-game suspension that he had previously agreed to while at Ohio State.”
  • “In my judgment, allowing players to secure their own ineligibility for college play in order to avoid previously determined disciplinary consequences for admitted conduct reflects poorly not on college football – which acted to discipline the transgressor – but on the NFL, by making it into a sanctuary where a player cannot only avoid the consequences of his conduct, but be paid for doing so.”

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