Terrelle Pryor addresses scandal

Updated: May 10, 2012, 1:53 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Terrelle Pryor is trying to put his past behind him and become a successful NFL quarterback. But he's not finished talking about what happened at Ohio State.

The reason why I did it was to pay my mother's gas bill and some of her rent. I was telling the NCAA, 'Please, anything that you can do. I gave my mother this so my sister wouldn't be cold, so my mother wouldn't be cold.' They didn't have any sympathy for me.

-- Terrelle Pryor

Pryor, now with the Oakland Raiders, received a five-game suspension in his final season with the Buckeyes for selling memorabilia. Nearly a full year later, Pryor, in an interview with Sports Illustrated, opened up about the decisions he made and the reasons why he made them.

"It was humbling," Pryor told Sports Illustrated. "A mistake I made when I was a freshman by selling my pants for $3,000 just took away everything from me. I was just driven into the ground. I was the worst person in the world. My face popped up on the screen, and it seemed like I was the only one who did anything. I was the only one who was getting attacked.

"At that point last year, I'm 21 and it just felt like everything was against me, like I can't do anything right. I did something to help somebody else out, and I end up getting into trouble. I understand. I shouldn't have sold the stuff and taken $3,000. But I was kind of in a place where I didn't understand why this is happening to me -- especially for the reason that I did it."

Pryor was suspended for the first five games of last season and then decided to enter the NFL supplemental draft, where he was chosen by the Raiders. He was later banned from associating with Ohio State for five years.

Pryor said he chose to take money in exchange for memorabilia to help his family.

"The reason why I did it was to pay my mother's gas bill and some of her rent," Pryor told Sports Illustrated. "She was four months behind in rent, and the (landlord) was so nice because he was an Ohio State fan. He gave her the benefit of the doubt and she said, 'My son will pay you back sometime if you just let me pay you back during my work sessions.' She ended up losing her job, and she and my sister lived there.

"Let me remind you it was freezing cold in November, December and she's using the oven as heat. That's what I did as a kid. I was telling the NCAA, 'Please, anything that you can do. I gave my mother this so my sister wouldn't be cold, so my mother wouldn't be cold.' They didn't have any sympathy for me."

Pryor also said he has documentation in the form of a receipt, proving the money went toward his family's bills and not personal use.

"Whenever I write my book, the proof will be in there, the receipt that the money I gave my mother was to pay the electric and heat bill," Pryor told Sports Illustrated. "The truth is going to come out one day when the time is right. I don't think I deserved (being punished) in that way, because of the reason I was doing it. I felt like I was doing God's work in a way, and I was getting driven into the ground."

Pryor's claim that he spent memorabilia-related money only on his family stands in contrast to the findings of an ESPN "Outside the Lines" report last June. A former friend said Pryor would spend his money lavishly at times, that the player had a "shoe fetish" and bought many expensive hats, belts and pieces of jewelry. The former friend said Pryor was particularly fond of Gucci items. ESPN independently confirmed Pryor made multiple such purchases.

The friend told "OTL" that Pryor made thousands of dollars autographing memorabilia in 2009-10 that were not documented in the NCAA's report.

The former friend says he witnessed the transactions, which occurred a minimum of 35 to 40 times, netting Pryor anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 that year. He said Pryor was paid $500 to $1,000 each time he signed mini football helmets and other gear for a Columbus businessman and freelance photographer, Dennis Talbott.

Talbott denied the allegations, and Pryor refused to cooperate with NCAA or school investigators after the "OTL" report aired.

Information from ESPN.com's Brian Bennett and ESPN enterprise reporter Tom Farrey was used in this report.

ALSO SEE