Dear Mr. Pryor, your arm’s not your biggest problem

Michael Moses

Tom Brady. Peyton Manning. Donovan McNabb.

When thinking about quarterbacks who thrive in the limelight, these names are the first to come to mind. Think about it, you see these faces day in and day out, whether it be on covers of GQ, MasterCard advertisements or the ever-so-famous Campbell’s Chunky Soup commercials. These celebrities are who they are because of their personalities.

These professionals are likeable people. They smile. They prefer designer suits to fitted hats that are cocked to the side. They’re understandable when they talk; they’re friendly with reporters. They joke. They flirt. When it comes down to it, you’d want them to represent your team.

There are also your Michael Vicks. Sometimes, I think the young quarterbacks of this day in age are looking up to the wrong people.

Which brings me to the subject: Terrelle Pryor, quarterback, the Ohio State University. Don’t take it from me that he looks up to Vick, just ask Pryor.

“Not everybody is the perfect person in the world,” Pryor said of Vick after a victory against Navy Sept. 5. “Everyone does – kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me. I just feel that people need to give him a chance.”


“I always looked up to Mike Vick and I always will, because I still think he is one of the best quarterbacks,” Pryor said. “I love Mike Vick.”

Riiiiiiight, right.

Pryor is a physical specimen. A truly gifted athlete with all the tools to succeed except two major things: personality and charm. You think I’m kidding? Let’s rewind to Brady, Manning and McNabb. Everything they possess is what Pryor lacks. To an extent, it is unfair to compare Pryor with these professionals, but I’m not speaking about physical tools. I’m talking about what your parents and teachers pass on to you: common manners – things as easy as smiling. It says a lot about a person.

At a high school basketball playoff game, a fan section was harassing Pryor and it just so happened there were kids in front of the fans. Pryor fired back during pregame warm-ups, saying he would “come up there.” Many f-bombs were dropped by the superstar in front of, let’s say, 8-year-olds. Classy.

I’m not being too critical of a 19-year-old kid. I can hear it all right now: “He’s just a sophomore, he hasn’t been in the public eye for that long,” or “Who are you to criticize a nationally renown athlete? You’re a college sports columnist, and he’s actually taking part in the games. You’re writing about a kid that’s your age!”

Sure, I’m about two months younger than Pryor. We’re in the same year in college. Yes, my job is to stir up sports-related issues, while his is to read Big Ten defenses. He’s 6-foot-6-inches tall, and I’m 5 foot 8. I might be a little jealous, since he dunked on my team during an AAU basketball tournament in seventh grade. He’s practicing at the Horseshoe right about now, and I’m currently writing about him in my dorm room. But put me in front of a camera with Erin Andrews interviewing, and I can promise you I’d be more professional and likable than Terrelle.

Let’s take a more realistic example. Matt Barkley, USC’s freshman quarterback, faced just as much media attention during his storied high school career as Terrelle did. Yet it looks like he’s years ahead of Pryor. They both were the No. 1-ranked quarterbacks in their respective classes. But watch an interview with Pryor, then watch one that stars Barkley. Barkley smiles, he seems like a kid who’s excited to be there. When he talks about helping the team win, it seems genuine. Hell, when Barkley talks, you can understand him. There no mumbles, there’s no “I’mma do.” in his vocabulary.

When Pryor speaks of the team, it almost sounds like coach Jim Tressel is behind him saying, “Now, Terrelle, you have to say this.” Barkley shows teeth, Pryor has a confused look on his face, just eager to answer the question and move on.

All of this transfers to the field. I’ve heard so many stories from sources throughout college football that Pryor is not liked as much by the team as people think. One specific story sums that up.

Last year, many of the Buckeyes’ players were at a bar. Pryor was hitting on a girl, and the female wasn’t really feeling Pryor’s audibles, so to speak. She went to get up, and Pryor grabbed her hand and said “Don’t you know who I am?” That followed with linebacker James Laurinaitis, now a St. Louis Ram, grabbing Terrelle and pinning him against a wall. I’m guessing Laurinaitis just gave him some senior leadership, you know?

When a player, especially the quarterback, has a cocky arrogance about him, it’s put up with until he stops performing on the field. Eight interceptions to just 10 touchdowns aren’t getting you much respect on the football field this year. Your knack might be your arm, Terrelle, but it’s much more than that. Let’s get back to the basics as a person and maybe Ohio State can get back to winning.

Contact sports columnist Michael Moses at [email protected].