The Gift that keeps on Giving...and taking.

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Established October 31, 1996
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Last updated: 06/10/2011 1:47 PM
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Football
The Gift That Keeps On Giving...And Taking
By Tony Gerdeman

Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor announced this week that he would be forgoing his senior season, saying it was "in the best interest of my teammates".

What an amazing guy. He did it for his teammates.

Even on his way out, after allegedly having been a part of strewing a debris field of violations throughout Columbus, he was still the ultimate team player.

Though I don't actually understand how leaving was in the best interest of his teammates, unless he was saying that since he's gone, he'll never again be talking to the NCAA.

Of course, there is the possibility of a fractured locker room and having him around would have been a constant reminder of the sanctions to come.

In other words, I doubt he would have been given a black jersey during summer practices if he had stuck around.

Which is a shame, because if you really think about it, everything he did was for somebody else. According to Gene Smith when he spoke on the original violations back in December, Pryor and his teammates accepted cash to help their families. Have you ever come into contact with a more selfless dude?

Even to the detriment of himself, he was out there working hard off the field to provide for his family. Football is a full-time job when you're in college. College itself is a part-time job. Where does hustling for your family fit in?

They say, 'For every hour you put into hustling, you should put two more hours into spending".

The most time-consuming part of it all may be deciding on which reverse pan-handler you're going to utilize in order to help your family.

Sports Illustrated wrote that former Buckeye Jermil Martin accepted a Chevy Tahoe in exchange for Rose Bowl tickets.

I remember growing up in a small-town. We had our struggles. By the time I was in high school, it was just me and my mom. She had to work evenings, so she would prepare supper for me before she left for work, and I would just reheat it in the microwave when I got home from school.

I recall a note on the fridge when I got home one time saying, "Tony, Chevy Tahoe is in the fridge. Just heat for about four minutes. Love, Mom."

I have no doubt players' families need help, and I have no doubt that players help their families, but a Chevy Tahoe has never fed anybody, and a tattoo hasn't ever paid a single electric bill.

Helping your family can be seen as a noble thing, even in the face of rules that prohibit it, but new rims don't pay your mother's rent, so let's stop pretending it does.

On Thursday, Terrelle Pryor's attorney Larry James appeared on a radio show and equated college football to slavery, calling it a "captured system".

While visiting Ohio State a few months back, a 2012 football recruit asked Pryor why he came to Ohio State. Pryor told him, "To run this s---."

Does that really sound like the talk of somebody who is "captured"?

James then went on to describe the current state of college football.

"It’s an archaic, draconian process by which you are basically financed for about nine and a half months of your school year and then you’re to find the money for whatever else is left [of] your expenses.  You live in basically poverty through that time period..."

Yeah, it's called college.

It's ramen noodles and 99-cent pizzas for a reason. These things aren't by choice.

Of course, in this "captured system", athletes eat better, are taught better, and live better than the average student. Maybe that's not a lot to live up to, but it's certainly far above "poverty".

That is not to say that the vast majority of players don't struggle, and clearly most don't have their hands out, but if they wanted to, there would always be somebody there to "help them out".

Big-time college football is like a big pie that has been left on your cartoon grandmother's windowsill to cool down. There's plenty for everybody, but nobody is allowed a taste.

However, that pie is actually for display purposes only. The real stuff is in the back, and anybody who wants some can come get some whenever they want.

In Ohio, as in other places, Buckeye football is a religion with four-year gods. Offerings of incense and first fruits have been modernized, but the tribute remains the same, and for whatever reason, there are adults who get off on being part of the program.

Having been out of college for over a decade now, when I'm around college-aged people, my first thought is usually about how I wish they would just shut up. The last thought that I would ever have is how can I appease these people, or how can I possibly get into their fold.

The Terrelle Pryors will come and go. The problem, however, is that the people so willing to "help" will never leave.

As a pained Buckeye fan, you can be happy that Terrelle Pryor is no longer around to accept benefits. but until those people giving the benefits are gone, nothing will change.

You can educate players all you want, but in a sport where the five major conferences have signed $12 billion in television contracts over the last two years, you can't possibly tell players - in a manner that is satisfactory to them - that they can't have a little something extra.

"It's against the rules" only works for so long - if it ever worked at all.

It's a victimless crime that only produces victims if you get caught. So, for many, regardless of what the rules say, in practice the goal is simply not to get caught.

While you might not want to admit it, you have to be able to understand it, because, to paraphrase a wise man, "The money is just too much."


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