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Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Don't expect NFL to punish Chip Kelly

By Dan Graziano

Getting some questions, in light of today's news about Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly and the NCAA discipline decision regarding him and his former employer, the University of Oregon. Some people want to know whether Kelly might face discipline from the NFL, in light of the fact that former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor was suspended by the league at the start of his career due to lingering issues from his college career; Pryor's former Ohio State coach, Jim Tressel, was made to sit out some NFL games, too.

The short answer is: I doubt it.

The parallels simply aren't exact. Pryor was suspended five games by the NFL in 2011 for what commissioner Roger Goodell called "a deliberate manipulation of our eligibility rules." Goodell believed that Pryor willfully engaged in conduct that would render him ineligible for college football so that he could become eligible for the supplemental draft and circumvent an NCAA-imposed five-game suspension. So Goodell decided it was only fair to honor the NCAA's suspension and suspend Pryor for five games.

Tressel, who ended up resigning from Ohio State as a result of the eligibility scandal that involved Pryor and others, was hired by the Indianapolis Colts as a consultant prior to the 2011 season. But it was the Colts who decided to postpone Tressel's employment with the team until the seventh week of that season out of respect to the suspensions being served by the Ohio State players he left behind. The NFL announced that it approved of the Colts' decision, but it was the Colts' decision, not the league's.

Since neither Kelly nor any players have been suspended as a result of what went on at Oregon, the Pryor comparison does not apply. And since there's no chance the Eagles will suspend Kelly, the Colts' comparison does not apply either. Pryor and Tressel got suspended because of NCAA suspensions that had already been imposed, and decisions made by the NFL and one of its teams to respect those. There are no suspensions to respect in this case. I could be wrong, and the NFL has yet to comment, but my guess is Kelly's in the clear.