NFL: Terrelle Pryor OK for draft

Updated: August 19, 2011, 12:18 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The NFL declared former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor eligible for the supplemental draft Thursday but ruled that he will not be able to play in the first five games of the 2011 season after he signs a contract.

The league announced Pryor was eligible in a memo sent to its 32 teams Thursday. The 2011 supplemental draft, which originally was scheduled for Aug. 17, will take place Monday.

Pryor likely will file an appeal after he signs an NFL contract, according to his lawyer.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said Pryor can file the appeal within three days of signing a deal, attorney David Cornwell said Friday on ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike in the Morning."

Cornwell said that as part of the likely appeal, the NFLPA would put its objections to the suspension on the record.

An NFLPA source had told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter the players' union recommended Pryor fight the suspension but that Cornwell and Drew Rosenhaus, Pryor's agent, believed it was a losing battle and that Pryor should accept the NFL's punishment and move on.

However, a source close to Pryor told ESPN's Joe Schad: "There is a cooperative environment between the NFL and NCAA. But there should be concern that the NFL would become an enforcement arm of the NCAA."

The source also expressed concern that this decision could set a precedent that would enable the NFL to suspend and/or fine future incoming rookies based on NCAA violations.

The NFL said that Pryor can play in preseason games after he is drafted and signs, but he is not eligible to practice with his new team or play in a game until Week 6 of the season. Pryor will be allowed at his new team's training facility for meetings and to work with coaches during the time he is ineligible, however.

"Pryor made decisions that undermine the integrity of the eligibility rules for the NFL draft," the league said Thursday. "Those actions included failing to cooperate with the NCAA and hiring an agent in violation of NCAA rules, which resulted in Ohio State declaring him ineligible to continue playing college football.

"Pryor then applied to enter the NFL after the regular draft. Pryor had accepted at the end of the 2010 college football season a suspension for the first five games of the 2011 season for violating NCAA rules. Pryor will be ineligible to practice prior to or play in the first five games of the NFL regular season after he signs."

Goodell informed NCAA president Mark Emmert about his decision, the NCAA said in a statement. The NFL said they considered this ruling "specific" to the Pryor case. Ohio State declined to comment when asked if the school was consulted by the NFL.

Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, a member of the NFLPA executive committee, said NFL players "are concerned about the message this sends."

"Granted, making this 'deal' was an individual decision made by a player with counsel from his agent and lawyer. They have every right to make whatever deal they want for his personal future. That being said, the general concern now is how far into Pandora's box this may go.

"This raises so many questions, and I think players are rightfully concerned."

Rosenhaus told ESPN's "SportsCenter" on Thursday that his client will hold a pro day workout Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh and will run the 40-yard dash, do agility drills and throw passes.

Rosenhaus also said that NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and Goodell worked together for the arrangement that will allow Pryor into the draft with the five-game suspension.

"The five games we happily agreed to, voluntarily," Rosenhaus said. "The alternative wasn't very attractive. We're grateful for the chance."

Rosenhaus, who called Pryor a "first-round talent," said he wouldn't try to predict when Pryor would be drafted Monday due to the "abbreviated" nature of the NFL's decision just days before the draft. He did say however, that he was confident that Pryor would be selected Monday.

Rosenhaus said Pryor was "elated" when he informed his client of the NFL's decision. Pryor tweeted Thursday morning: "God bless and thanks for support! Time to have a little fun!!"

Personally, I hope this causes everyone to pause and conclude that we must challenge the NCAA on its 'amateurism' rules. Terrelle is going to the NFL because the NCAA mandated that he feed their families, but he could not feed his own.

-- Attorney David Cornwell

Cornwell said he and Pryor were happy with the NFL's decision but said the NCAA must be challenged on its "amateurism" rules.

"Ultimately we are pleased that Terrelle will have the opportunity to fulfill his dream to dream to play in the NFL," Cornwell said. "Personally, I hope this causes everyone to pause and conclude that we must challenge the NCAA on its 'amateurism' rules. Terrelle is going to the NFL because the NCAA mandated that he feed their families, but he could not feed his own."

League spokesman Greg Aiello tweeted you can't break the rules as Pryor did "and get a free pass into the NFL."

One of the points of contention during negotiations for a new NFL labor agreement was the authority given to the commissioner to hand out punishment. In the end, there were no changes to Goodell's position, but his decision to suspend Pryor worried players.

"I don't understand," said Buffalo Bills safety George Wilson, an NFLPA representative. "My question is, with this Miami probe, are those players who took those gifts, are those guys -- guys that violated NCAA regulations -- are they subject to his discipline as well? Is it retroactive? This opens up a big can of worms.

"You can't pick and choose when you want to apply, when you don't want to apply, who you stick it to, who you don't stick it to," Wilson said. "It needs to be clearly defined. I don't agree with it. But we have to see how he chooses to proceed as well as the union. It's just setting a whole totally different precedent. "

If he hadn't been ruled eligible, Pryor would have had to wait until the regular April 2012 draft.

In order to qualify for the supplemental draft, a player must show that his status has changed -- such as being declared academically ineligible by his school -- after the NFL's regular college draft has been held.

A star with the Buckeyes for three years, Pryor and several teammates were suspended for the first five games of the upcoming season for receiving improper benefits from a Columbus tattoo-parlor owner. The quarterback subsequently left school, hoping he'd be eligible for the supplemental draft.

Pryor, regarded as the nation's top quarterback recruit coming out of high school, had three terrific seasons for the Buckeyes. Ohio State's career-leading rusher among quarterbacks with 2,164 yards also tied a school mark with 57 touchdown passes.

As a freshman, he led Ohio State to an 8-1 record as a starter and was the Big Ten freshman of the year. Pryor led the Buckeyes to the Big Ten title the following season and a victory in the Rose Bowl, in which he was named the game's MVP after beating Oregon 26-17.

As a junior, Pryor had his best season statistically, throwing for 2,772 yards and 27 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. He also ran for 754 yards and four scores while helping the Buckeyes to a 31-26 victory over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.

But shortly before the Sugar Bowl, it was revealed that Pryor and other players traded Buckeyes memorabilia for cash and discounted tattoos. In the following months, it became clear that coach Jim Tressel knew about the improper benefits in spring 2010 but didn't inform his bosses, as was required under his contract and NCAA rules. Tressel was forced out of his job May 30 and Pryor left Ohio State soon after.

Tressel acknowledged knowing his players were taking improper benefits but covered it up for more than nine months before Ohio State officials discovered the violations.

Five other players are eligible to be drafted Monday: former Georgia running back Caleb King, former Northern Illinois safety Tracy Wilson, former Western Carolina cornerback Torez Jones, former Lindenwood University defensive end Keenan Mace, and former North Carolina defensive end Michael McAdoo.

Forty players have been selected in the NFL supplemental draft since its inception in 1977.

Some of the more notable supplemental draft picks include Bernie Kosar, Brian Bosworth, Cris Carter, Steve Walsh, Rob Moore, Jamal Williams and Jared Gaither.

Teams submit picks to the league and if their bid is the highest, they receive the player but lose the corresponding draft pick in the following year's regular draft.

Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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