Terrelle Pryor has been electric under center for the Oakland Raiders. Pryor has provided hope for a decimated fan base which has been bombarded by the doom and gloom outlooks provided by media pundits. All offseason the Raiders were frequently tagged as the worst team in the league, with some analysts going as far as calling the Raiders “the worst roster in the league” and commenting “I would be shocked if they won a game.” All of which would seem fusible given the mass exodus of high priced mainstays once presumed to be key cogs in the return journey to NFL relevance. Throw in the most gifted athlete in the league and all bets are off the table. Terrelle Pryor under center means a punchers chance and the very definition of “Any Given Sunday.” Not one player in the league can boast a massive 6’6 frame, 230 plus pounds, sub 4.4 speed, uncharted lateral quickness and arm strength to rival most in the league. Cam Newton is close sure, but Pryor’s speed is far superior and that’s probably debatable, but I trust my eyes. In addition to his superior athleticism, Pryor has quietly put together back to back quality passing games against divisional rivals Denver and San Diego completing 37 of 51 passes (72.5 pct) for 502 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT’s for a passer rating of 123.2 and is 3rd amongst QBs in rushing yards.
So what is the problem with Terrelle Pryor? The coaching staff, the fan base and the media all too often seek to compare him to another quarterback they believe to be similar or his equal. He is like Kaepernick, he should look at RGIII, Russell Wilson and so forth is some of the comments filling up chat rooms and uttered from opposing coaches. Since early elementary school when learning the Dewey decimal system human nature is to put things in neat boxes to make them more relatable, less unknown and on the surface these similarities drawn between Pryor and his contemporaries could hold water. But none of these quarterbacks have endured what Terrelle Pryor has suffered or took the road Pryor took to being the hope of a franchise.
20131010-101215.jpgPryor was the most highly sought after prospect coming out of Jeanette High School in Pennsylvania with offers from Oregon, Penn State and Michigan to name a few. Pryor eventually landed at Ohio State an event covered by ESPN as he was their top QB recruit. For 2008. At Ohio State, Pryor compiled a record of 33-6 while amassing accolades ranging from Big Ten freshman of the year to Rosé bowl MVP. Pryor’s stock soared from high school to his senior year of college. Then came the tattoo scandal that derailed Pryor’s ascension in ways few could have imagined. Few media outlets evaded opportunities to season the wounds of Pryor’s misconduct and rarely avoided kicking dirt on his name or avoided the furthering of the tainting of his image. Pryor elected to leave Ohio State for the NFL via the supplemental draft where Al Davis selected the young signal caller. Pryor received another kick from the NFL in the form of a 6 game suspension, an unprecedented action and to this day the only of its kind.
In Oakland, Pryor became part of an equally defamed former winner. For three years the once prominent phenom laid buried on the Raiders depth chart and watched as the NFL became in awed by lesser athletic talents. “Lesser talents” is a bold statement I know, but do a google search of Terrelle Pryor, set your time range to before the tattoo scandal and read assessments of Pryor. All of the potential and projections of Pryor’s future forgotten as he faded to black and silver if you will. The league, media and most people remotely knowledgable of Terrelle Pryor had him all but forgotten and even mentioned him switching positions. The problem with these post scandal assessments, Pryor is and always has been a champion at heart. Through most of his contest since ever stepping on the field, Pryor wins more than loses. Negative reports do not remove talent and I’ve never seen someone considered washed up at 23 years old. The thing about a champion, apparently unbeknownst to media outlets, Pryor, a champion, was mislabeled as beaten when he was merely bruised. Fast forward to present day, Pryor is now humbled by his experiences and know how precious it is to lead a team again. Who knew the most unlikely of landing spots in Oakland, which does not have a history of building quarterbacks, would be the ideal situation for Pryor. Two coaches and three offensive coordinators in as many years, you may ask how can the situation be ideal for any quarterback. The kindred spirit of Pryor and the Raiders are not hard to discern, former champions in search of redemption. In interviews Pryor is humble, reserved and mindful to say the right things. On the field, in inner rage boils beneath the surface. An internal monologue that remembers every negative report about him and faintly whispers to them all with superior play… “I will not go quietly into the night.”
Not one of the quarterbacks frequently compared to Pryor has soared to such heights and fallen to such depths to return again. Three years of listening and reading reports about how you don’t have what it takes to be an NFL quarterback. Your own organization bringing in quarterback after quarterback over this span because they don’t believe you are the guy. To once have so much and lose so much, there is nothing like absence to make the heart grow fonder or everyone telling you what you can’t do to fuel a work ethic and passion of the rarest form. Through sheer will, Pryor has returned. So don’t compare Terrelle Pryor to anyone, just watch to see where he goes. We just may be seeing the journey of a generational player grow before our very own eyes.