Terrelle Pryor saw no reason to prolong the agony.
His, or that of Ohio State fans who cast him as the scapegoat for the forced resignation of their beloved coach Jim Tressel.
Pryor’s lawyer, Larry James, released a statement from the quarterback to the Cleveland Plain Dealer Tuesday evening. In it Pryor said, “In the best interest of my teammates, I have decided to forego my senior year of football at the Ohio State University.” It’s the first time Pryor has thought of his teammates since he started making regular runs from the equipment room to Fine Line Ink.
His decision came just eight days after Tressel’s Memorial Day ouster.
Perhaps Pryor could imagine the boos from the sellout crowd of 105,000 that would have greeted him when he first set foot in Ohio Stadium on Oct. 29 against Wisconsin. That is Game 8, but the Buckeyes’ first at home after the five-game NCAA suspension he would have served for receiving improper benefits from the owner of a local tattoo parlor. The only way he could have gotten through that night unscathed would have been to masquerade as Bucky Badger.
Perhaps Pryor no longer feels safe in Columbus. The two students who wrote former receiver Ray Small’s damaging story of discounts on cars and tattoos for OSU’s newspaper, the Lantern, have received death threats, along with other members of the staff. Earlier this year ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit moved to Nashville over concerns for his family’s safety.
Perhaps Pryor knows the NCAA is going to find more dirt on him as it continues its investigation.
Or maybe Pryor really wanted to turn pro, anyway, but only said he would return for his senior season so he could face Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. A statement released by OSU coach Luke Fickell said Pryor “has decided to pursue a professional career. I wish him the best in his pursuits.”
Who knows what Fickell said to Pryor about his chances of playing in the Buckeyes’ final seven games in 2011. If Fickell listened to Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, Fickell told him he wouldn’t play at all.
Stoops told the Oklahoman last week that once he learned quarterback Rhett Bomar was found to have taken illegal benefits from a local car dealership, he told him in August 2006, “You’re not playing at Oklahoma.” When Bomar asked Stoops if he meant the next season, Stoops said he responded, “No, it’s going to be forever. We’ll move on. You can transfer.”
Bomar was a redshirt freshman and his options were limited. Pryor has several. He could stay at Ohio State and try to finish his degree. He could transfer to a smaller school, which seems fruitless when he has a 31-4 record as a starter. It’s likely he’ll apply for the NFL’s supplemental draft, which will be held whenever the league resumes business. That will give 32 teams a chance to pass on him for several rounds until they get to the round where their personnel directors decide his value lies.
It’s possible he’s been driving better cars in college than he will in the NFL, especially if he ends up playing tight end and special teams for the rookie minimum.
Whatever the reason for Pryor’s decision, he saved fans a lot of boos and himself a lot of heartache. Assuming he has a heart.