Like another former Ohio State player, quarterback Terrelle Pryor, whose application for approval into a potential supplemental draft this month is now in limbo, may turn to the courtroom to contest the legality of the NFL draft.
The basis for any Pryor action would not be exactly the same as the suit brought by former Buckeyes tailback Maurice Clarett in 2004, when he fought the league's so-called "three-year rule" for draft eligibility. But it would have a similar effect, with the banished Pryor essentially attempting to force his way into the league.
"Everything is on the table right now. ... All the possibilities are being considered," said a member of the Pryor camp when asked by The Sports Xchange if the player and his advisors were exploring legal remedies were the onetime OSU star deemed ineligible for the supplemental draft.
Kudos to longtime league personnel man Greg Gabriel, now a contributor to the National Football Post, for discerning last month that Pryor does not fit snugly into the NFL's previous guidelines for determining supplemental draft eligibility.
Wrote Gabriel at the time: "Pryor did not flunk out of school and still has a year of college eligibility. He was suspended for five games this season, but he still could have come back and played in the final seven games and a bowl game. He also could have transferred down to a school at a lower level of competition and played this year, or just transferred to another FBS school and (sat) out the year. In the past, players in the supplemental draft had lost the ability to finish their college careers because of grades or other circumstances."
At issue, and still to be determined by the NCAA, is whether Pryor was in fact unable to return to Ohio State, or any other school, for any portion of the 2011 season. If his eligibility was entirely lapsed, he likely will be included in a supplemental draft. Until that is determined, however, Pryor does not fit the standard definition for the players who in the past have been granted supplemental entry. To include Pryor in the draft, under the current scenario, would mean altering the rules for him.
Along with four teammates, none of whom has petitioned the NFL for entry into a supplemental draft at this point, Pryor was suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season.
Pryor and agent Drew Rosenhaus have been proceeding, at least publicly, as if the quarterback would be in a supplemental draft. Pryor has been working out in Florida under the tutelage of former Cincinnati quarterback and onetime league quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson, and with several Rosenhaus clients. Two weeks ago, Pryor met with former team personnel executive Ken Herock, whose firm, ProPrep, readies players for pre-draft interviews.
At one point, Rosenhaus claimed Pryor would be a first-round choice in a supplemental draft.
Were he to be ineligible for a supplemental draft, Pryor theoretically would then have to wait until the regular-phase draft in April 2012 to begin his NFL career. Such a ruling could prompt court action.
It is not yet known how the new CBA agreement, ratified Monday by the NFLPA executive board and player reps, might affect a potential lawsuit.
One player who has said he will enter the supplemental draft, and who presumably does not share some of Pryor's eligibility problems, is former University of Georgia tailback Caleb King.
A part-time starter for the Bulldogs for three seasons, King recently was ruled academically ineligible by the school. He has been working out in the Atlanta area, and two teams told The Sports Xchange last week that, after reviewing tapes of King, he might be chosen in the late rounds of a supplemental lottery, and, at worst, figured to be in some club's training camp as a free agent.
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Len Pasquarelli is a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange. He has covered the NFL for 33 years and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. His NFL coverage earned recognition as the winner of the McCann Award for distinguished reporting in 2008.