Originally written on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 11/5/14

Dear Terrelle Pryor,

First and foremost, let me say that we are honored to have you as a part of Raider Nation. You are the last person Al Davis was able to draft, so your career in the NFL will be one me and other proud members of the Nation will pay attention to until you decide to retire.

Outside of football, I think you have a big heart and are destined to be great in all aspects of life. A lot of people know you from the “Tattoo 5” scandal with a couple of teammates at The Ohio State University. Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated posted a great article from a one-on-one interview with you. I read, and what stuck out to me about the interview is you told him you sold some memorabilia to help provide for your mother. I have followed you since you were in High School; I know that you had a difficult time coming of age in Jeanette, Pennsylvania. I come from Oakland, so I can relate to the struggle just as much, if not more than you. Whether you sold the memorabilia to help keep your mother’s lights on or not, I am on your side. The NCAA is a complete scandal in my eyes. It is okay for them to pay coaches like Urban Meyer and Les Miles 1-2 million dollars a year, but the players are only allowed to accept the $10,000 scholarship, or whatever the amount may be.

Receiving a scholarship is like signing your life away. You have curfew, can’t give nor receive certain items; and they expect you to be satisfied with the check given through your scholarship, which isn’t enough to purchase a car, keep up with your bills, etc. For players like you, a top 5 ranked football player and top 20 ranked basketball player in high school, you played sports to get your family and yourself out of the ‘hood. So by all means, I am all for doing whatever it takes to keep a smile on your mother’s face. I can sense that you were as frustrated financially as Chris Webber was when at the University of Michigan; seeing a jersey with your name and number on it being sold for $100 going to the university, but you can’t sell the one off your back to put a few dollars in your queen purse. Either way, it has become an honor seeing you mold from a boy to becoming a man.

It was disingenuous how Commissioner Roger Goodell came down on you after you chose to forego your senior year at Ohio State and enter the NFL’s supplemental draft. Suspending you for the first six games of the season, not allowing you to practice nor own a playbook was too strict. It added insult to injury when your former coach Jim Tressel was hired by the Indianapolis Colts to work in the front office, but did not face any suspensions, fines or setbacks from starting his new profession at the next level. Goes to show you the limitations, constraints on athletes as opposed to the personnel guys.

Twenty months later, after you were announced MVP of the 2010 Rose Bowl, you saw your first action in a live football game on August 13th, 2012 against the Dallas Cowboys. You had a rough, shaky outing; but that is what realists like myself expected from a guy who plays the most important position in arguably all of sports, and hasn’t been in the game for almost two years. A significant amount of players adhered to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which cut out several small actions that would benefit a young player like you. The NFLPA and Commissioner Goodell agreed that there will be no more double days during training camp. Never thought the day would come when the NFL would ask for there to be no more double days. Granted, there are several veterans in the league who are up there in age and don’t want to ruin one of their last seasons by getting injured in practice; but, this is the NFL, my friend. Suck it up.

Where I think the new CBA impact players like you, the most is the loss to double days. You are currently the third string quarterback on the depth chart. Players like you don’t get as many reps as the starter and second string of guys. You have limited opportunities in practice to prove yourself. There not being anymore double days made your opportunities even more insurmountable. But don’t get me wrong; I think you are the future of the Silver and Black.

This upcoming week, you guys face the Detroit Lions. They ruined your chances of going to the playoffs last year. And with the injury to Leinart, you might have the chance to play the entire second half. The third preseason game is the most important. Reserves or not, everyone takes this game serious like there are playoff chances on the line. I expect to see a different Terrelle Pryor than the one we have seen the last couple of weeks.

Your father passed away during the beginning of camp. You missed his homegoing celebration because you know how important it is that you get all the work in that you can. And I respect that. You said you presume the Raiders organization to support you through such a horrendous time in your life. Whether they do or do not, know that fans like myself, and the rest of Raider Nation are pulling for you, pal. We saw your mobility inside and outside the pocket, and how you can expand plays like Ben Roethlisberger. You completed a clutch pass on 3rd and fifteen as well, all against the Dallas Cowboys. The home crowd will be behind you throughout your stint with the Raiders, including this Saturday. Keep up the hard work and don’t hang your head. You have huge upside, and I look forward to your starting days with the club and that youthful Wide Receiver core. Do it for Al.

Sincerely,

Antoine Johnson

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