Living by his wits. I am here to sing the praises of Terrelle Pryor. He’s no saint. But Pryor’s been living by his wits, for a long time. Raised without any money, they say. But since he’s become an Student-Entertainer (if we have to hyphenate, then let’s conflate the accurate words), he’s known by everyone. So he gets, presumably, some cash here, some cash there. Free meals. Maybe free tattoos. Nice cars, apparently, from a variety of sources.
The NCAA and, now, OSU, would like you to believe that Pryor’s done something REALLY wrong. Yes, he broke the rules established by a voluntary, not-for-profit organization, run mostly by white guys, who are all making large sums of money derived fundamentally and completely from the work-product of Pryor and other gifted Student-Entertainers (most of them poor and black.) And these rules? They are made up in thin air. They’re not statutes, either criminal or civil or administrative. And they don’t reflect reality. They prop up a system which leaves young Entertainers flapping in the wind. Why are all these hyperventilating young males chastising Terrelle Pryor for “not playing by amateur rules”, when they voice no objection to Taylor Swift, or Justin Bieber, or Felicia Keyes, or other young Entertainers getting paid whatever the market will bear? — just like the rest of society?
And remember, Pryor didn’t take anything: these are all people with whom he comes in contact who WANT to GIVE him things. He has higher name recognition than the Secretary of the Treasury, after all. People want to be around celebrities, and it’s human nature, I guess, to want to buy their friendship with gifts.
What’s the point? This is the Haves vs. the Have-Nots. The Haves are the NCAA puppet-leaders. Did you see those quotes from Julie Roe Lach, their Head of Enforcement, this morning in response to the UMiami meteorite? Rather than passing any kind of independent judgment, based upon her lofty position and duties, or promising any kind of action, all she can talk about is “what she’s ‘hearing about’ from members”! She’s a cardboard cut-out, who’s waiting to figure out “what she might be able to do”, based on polling the members, and she heads up Enforcement! And the other Haves are the Coaches with multi-million dollar salaries; the ADs, and the hundreds of other Athletic Dept. employees at every school, all of whom make solid, sometimes big salaries – and all of whom have “full benefits.” They certainly don’t want any change. They’re giggling every time they deposit their paychecks — this is beyond their wildest childhood dreams of 20 or 30 years ago.
Pryor? No benefits. No workers comp. No social security. No Wage & Hour protection, to insure that his putative employer — OSU — doesn’t take advantage of him. So, Pryor’s still living by his wits, still, if not at the bottom of the well, still somewhere in the shaft.
Then along comes Roger Goodell. He’s just finished getting boxed around by the NFLPA, and he’s feeling, well, just plain CONSTRAINED. He wants to jostle somebody around. Kind of like former Michigan AD Bill Martin jostled around a couple kids (in two different instances) at the Michigan Press Box in the fall of 2009, after the UM/NCAA brouhaha erupted. So Goodell announces today he’s going to sucker-punch Pryor. He’ll require that Pryor, as a condition of being allowed to enter the NFL’s supplemental draft, must sit out the first five games of any employment he retains with an NFL team.
First of all, if you can find this kind of mechanism anywhere in any written NFL rule, or the recently signed NFL CBA, then speak up, because no one else can. Second, I can guarantee TP never saw this one coming — because Goodell is winging it, and he’s decided it’s time to give TP a sucker-punch. Third, the NFL showed no similar antagonism to, say, Seattle Coach Pete Carroll coming into the league — without having to “sit out” for any prescribed number of games. Fourth, Goodell probably has little or no insight into the NCAA’s regulatory/investigatory/adjudicatory framework, because if he did, the last thing he’d want to do is rely on any finding of fact, much less articulated punishment announced by the “make-believe”, made-for-TV-movie NCAA adjudicatory system.
I’m with Pryor all the way on this one, and I’ll take this to another level. First, let me note that there are many times in my personal everyday life when I come in contact, either directly or by watching or reading, with a “Race Card” being played in circumstances where it is the last thing warranted. It’s just too lightly tossed around. But the “Big Picture Race Card” is almost entirely ignored as regards the de facto impact of actions taken by the NCAA. The NCAA is not just a cartel; it is a cartel which conspires to erect and maintain a system which has significant de facto disparate impact on one race: blacks. And those blacks are the “core producers” (and product) of this vast and wealthy Entertainment cartel which is the NCAA. Understand this correctly: to find disparate impact is not to say that any one AD, or Coach, or college President, is motivated by bad discriminatory intent. It is a statistical, broad analysis of the operation and effect of one system. And I think the NCAA is potentially liable for such a disparate impact.
So how’s that relate to Goodell? He is jumping in and appropriating — then applying – the NCAA’s Terrelle Pryor findings and sanctions, to support the NCAA’s stronghold on their system which has disparate impact on blacks. It’s a sucker-punch, which — no matter what the explicit motive in Goodell’s mind — has the effect of reinforcing and maintaining the NCAA’s “under-my-economic-thumb” structure. And now, in the microcosm, Terrelle Pryor (whose head must be spinning) is ONCE AGAIN provided with a roadblock to earning, day-to-day, what he deserves. Forced — STILL — to live by his wits, again.
I’ve always thought that guys like Jim Brown, Jalen Rose, Grant Hill, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan — whoever — ought to have as their first “charitable priority” setting up a foundation to protect black athletes before they turn professional. Get them attorneys to represent them in NCAA proceedings. Have them file lawsuits to enforce their rights to remuneration, workers comp, wage & hour protection, and to stop the ongoing disparate impact of the NCAA cartel. The College Players are an “interest group” with no heft, and no protection. Too bad, for example, on the Thursday night before the next NCAA basketball Final Four, all 60 athletes from all four teams could not get together and announce they will not play without complete change in their compensation and the NCAA framework. THAT’s living by your wits. Terrelle, sue the bastards. Don’t give up. And don’t feel guilty. They’ve given you the shaft.