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Even though it’s more fun to talk about Miami’s prostitutes, yachts, and bundles of cash, Terrelle Pryor’s five-game NFL suspension is the most important story in the football world right now.The decision has two principle implications:
- The NFL and the NCAA are slowly but surely becoming one in the same.
- The NFLPA is weak.
Before the Supplemental Draft on Tuesday, the NFL suspended Pryor five games for violating the “integrity of the eligibility rules for the NFL draft.”
But given the obscure nature of the “violation,” and the fact that the NCAA gave Pryor an identical five-game suspension before he left Ohio State, the NFL ruling amounts to a new precedent — the NFL now punishes players for NCAA violations.
Look, the NFL needs the NCAA — it’s essentially the lifeblood of its $9 billion business. So it’s understandable that the league would try to appease its feeder system.
But what the Pryor decision amounts to is a merger of the two entities, at least in the area of disciplinary action.
The danger of such a merger is simple — it creates a new tool for the league to exercise its power over players.
Roger Goodell has held unprecedented player-conduct powers over active NFL players since he took over the league office, and now the scope of those powers will expand to include so-called amateurs who’ve yet to enter the league.
The NFLPA is the one entity responsible for curbing this power — for making a clear distinction between an professional violation punishable by the NFL and an amateur violation punishable by the NCAA.
Yet they are not making that argument.
In fact, by not even appealing the suspension, Pryor and the NFLPA are implicitly granting the league the ability to punish for NCAA violations.