The NFL has announced that the five-game suspension of Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor has been upheld by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Pryor is permitted to rejoin the team on Oct. 9.
Goodell approved Pryor's entry into the supplemental draft, which took place on Aug. 22, but he ruled that Pryor intentionally broke NCAA rules to make himself ineligible for further college play.
In excerpts from Goodell's letter to Pryor, the commissioner firmly rebuked Pryor for flouting the rules to gain entry into the NFL. The Raiders took him in the third round of the supplemental draft, meaning they will forfeit their third-round pick in next year's regular draft.
"“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," Goodell wrote. "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.”
The letter continued:
“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.”
Goodell added that Pryor's action "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.”
The letter concluded: “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.”