On Friday, July 1, 2011, America woke up to a sad reality: The NFL is locked out. The NBA is locked out. And Major League Baseball just…won’t…go…away. Add in a summer with no Olympics or World Cup (unless you include that cute tournament the gals are playing), and these really are tough times for sports fans.
Luckily, for glorious hour last night, ESPN hit a programming home run. They matched my favorite washed-up, slightly overrated, but always entertaining ex-coach, with my favorite unregistered car driving, Gucci belt wearing disgraced former quarterback, in what was truly the most entertaining hour of TV in a very long time.
That’s right, Terrelle Pryor went to Camp Gruden Thursday night.
And I kept a running diary to commemorate it.
9:00 p.m. EST: We open up the program with the clock showing 4:14 a.m. While the rest of the world sleeps, Jon Gruden is awake, arriving at the headquarters of the FFCA; the Fired Football Coaches Association of America. First order of business: Put on a pot of coffee. Second order of business: Take over the world.
A couple of things here.
One, I don’t know if the “FFCA” is a new shtick, or one Gruden has been playing up all along, but I love it. And really, it just leads me to so many questions. Who else is part of the association? Are there membership dues? Is there a grace period to be elected, like the Baseball Hall of Fame? Most importantly, do they ever prank call Bill Stewart and offer him membership, before hanging up the phone on him and high-fiving each other? Is there a website where I can go to get some answers?
This is also a good time to mention that we’ve just gotten out first shot of Mr. T Peezy himself, Terrelle Pryor.
Pryor has come dressed to the nines for the occasion, in what would best be described as the “Tiger Woods Infidelity Starter Kit,” featuring a blue Nike pullover, and black Nike hat, worn backwards of course. Compared to past Camp Gruden shows, Pryor’s attire definitely falls somewhere in between Cam Newton’s dapper sweater vest that I think he borrowed from Cecil, and Ryan Mallett’s mustard stained white tee. We’re off to a good start.
And finally, after 90 seconds of drama, Pryor finally speaks: “I’m certainly not here at 4:30 watching no films,” Pryor says.
T Peezy, my man. It’s good to have you back in my life.
9:01: Cut back to the ESPN studios, where Rece Davis comes on the screen next, and tells us that yes, in fact, he is Rece Davis. He does not however tell us where Mark May is, with my best guess being that he’s at home either berating his wife, or trimming his goatee. One thing I can promise you is, he’s definitely not doing any actual football analysis.
From there Davis takes us through Pryor’s laundry list of problems: The tats, the free money, the time he tried to buy a Greek island with straight cash. Davis then also explains that ESPN requested an interview with Pryor, but when he refused to talk about his past at Ohio State, the company denied the request. Yet they’re still airing the show…. Anyone else confused?
No matter what, you can say this about ESPN: Good for them for drawing the line in the sand somewhere!!!
9:03: Our first shot of Gruden and Pryor at the FFCA headquarters.
Gruden’s first question is simple and to the point: “How did this all happen.” Pryor responds in a rambling, semi-coherent diatribe that, by my count, included three “you knows,” seven “umms,” and two uncontrollable giggles. He does not however mention what he’s actually apologizing for.
Finally, Pryor wraps up by saying, “In the end, I have to go on and live my life.”
Glad to see he hired LeBron James as his public speaking coach.
9:04: Being the hard-hitting journalist that he is, Gruden follows up by asking Pryor how he’s handled the adversity.
Pryor rattles off a nice, dignified response of, “The only way I can handle this… with God and prayer.”
Unfortunately ESPN cut out Pryor’s later follow-up, where he said, “Plus, sleeping on a pile of cash ain’t bad either! Ya dig!”
9:05: More questions from Gruden, all rapid fire, almost like a six-year-old sitting in the back seat of a car, that’s eaten entirely too much candy. Gruden starts with, “Are you prepared,” before cutting himself off and asking, “Do you even know what a Supplemental Draft is?”…followed by a “Who is the real Terrelle Pryor? (By the way, Gruden’s line of questioning is so absurd, so over the top, that I really think President Obama should hire him to interrogate prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Gruden would have them confessing to crimes they weren’t even a part of)
In response to the “Who is Terrelle Pryor,” question, the actual Pryor says, “I’m heartfelt. I like taking care of people. Whenever I see people in the street, I give them the last money that I have.” Before adding, “Seriously bro, you have any idea how hard it is to get rid of $40,000 without the IRS finding out?”
Ok, maybe I made the last part up.
9:06 Next, Gruden asks Pryor why he chose Ohio State over Penn State and Pittsburgh. Pryor’s answer of course is Jim Tressel, a man he holds in high regard, who he, “Still speaks with to this day.”
No word yet on if their last conversation included Tressel speaking in a calm, deliberate tone, before finally breaking down and screaming out, “You got me fired you big jerk!!” before falling to his knees like the winner of Wimbledon, and sobbing uncontrollably.
9:07: And if you had 9:07 as the first “This guy,” in your office pool, well, give yourself a pat on the back, because you’re a winner. As a reward, Gruden will send you an officially licensed FFCA t-shirt in the mail, within 7-10 business days.
9:08: We’ve just hit easily my favorite moment of the show so far. As Gruden breaks down tape of Pryor, he says to the young guy, “You’re so big, you’re so fast. How would you stop Terrelle Pryor?”
To which our man T Peezy gives the most Pryor-ific response of the day, saying, “I don’t know. I just keeping better.”
Honestly, if you don’t love Terrelle Pryor after a line like that, then I don’t know what to tell you.
9:09: Gruden’s watching film….watching film… and out of nowhere screams out “BAM!!!!!” at the top of his lungs as Pryor stiff arms an unsuspecting, slow Big Ten safety. In the process, not only did Gruden wake up the dead, he also terrified my dog, who is now hiding under the desk. Thanks for nothing Coach.
9:10: Our first commercial break, and not a moment too soon. That was easily the 10 best minutes of television in 2011. I feel like Charlie Weis after walking up a flight of stairs. I’m totally gassed.
9:12: Back from commercial, and Gruden brings up the topic we’re all dying to now about: Pryor to wide receiver. He then pops in the tape of the Texas game from Pryor’s freshman year, where Pryor moved to the outside, and straight punks a defensive back on a touchdown catch.
You know what my reaction to the play was? Poor Pryor, if he’d come along five years earlier, Matt Millen would’ve used a top five pick on him.
9:13: More golden commentary courtesy of Pryor: In response to Gruden’s question about drafting him at wide receiver, Pryor says, “If Jon Gruden were smart, he’d play me at quarterback.”
(Quick side note- Say what you want about Pryor, but I will give him credit for this: He didn’t change who he is for the sake of this show, which definitely hasn’t been the case with everyone.
When Cam Newton came on, he answered Gruden’s questions like he was reading straight off a cue card. When Ryan Mallett was there, he came off dumber than a door-knob, interestingly, by trying not to sound dumb. Hell, when Blaine Gabbert came on, he tried to not act like a pompous prick, despite plenty of evidence that he is in fact, a pompous prick.
But Pryor? He was just being the T Peezy we all know, and occasionally love. Whether that’s a good thing or not, I’ll let you judge. But credit to him none the less.
Now, back to your regularly scheduled Camp Gruden episode…)
9:14: Next, Gruden pops in tape of a bunch of different NFL quarterbacks, and discusses each at length.
He credits Brady for his mental toughness, and says he’s “the most competitive guy you’ll ever meet.” He talks about Brees’ ability to change plays at the line of scrimmage.
And then there’s Peyton Manning, who Gruden calls “The Sheriff.”
Why the Sherriff? “Because he always gets his man.”
Ok, I can’t lie, that was pretty damn funny.
9:17: Our first look at T Peezy on the white board. Gruden asks him to explain a double post pattern, despite pretty strong body language to indicate that he has no actual interest in hearing the answer. Gruden’s got the same glassy-eyed look on his face that my grandma gets when I try to explain text messaging to her. Needless to say, he seems unimpressed by Pryor’s response.
9:18: Commercial No. 2.
9:22: We’re back from commercial, with the camera panned to Pryor saying “People don’t know just how bad I want to win.”
Now normally I’d throw in some cheap shot. But actually, I agree.
I’ll always remember the first time I saw Pryor play, when Ohio State went to the Coliseum to and played USC back in 2008. If you don’t remember that game, Pryor was a freshman, and that was Pete Carroll’s last great ‘SC team, with Mark Sanchez, Brian Cushing, Taylor Mays etc.
Anyway, within minutes, it was blatantly clear that Ohio State was overmatched, and wanted nothing to do with the Trojans. But as a team full of seniors sat on the sideline sulking…there came Pryor, barking at guys, telling them to get it together. I still remember thinking, “Man, that’s the only guy on the team that thinks he belongs on the field with USC tonight.” And truthfully, he probably was.
So say what you want about Terrelle Pryor the guy. Hate him for the off-the-field stuff. But on the field, the guy is a competitor. Don’t ever forget that.
9:24: Not a whole lot to report on this segment. Gruden hammers home the key point that a quarterback should never waste plays.
Really, amazing stuff. I totally get now how Gruden won a Super Bowl.
9:25: Oh, and in case you missed it, remember: Wasting plays is bad. Not wasting plays is good. Thank goodness I’m here to clarify.
9:27: Next up, is quite possibly the highlight of the show, when Gruden starts discussing bubble screens.
Just in case you didn’t know, Gruden hates them. Loathes them. Considers them part of the Axis of Evil. Wants them eliminated from football- and in turn life- altogether.
Then as Pryor tries to explain their value, Gruden cuts him off saying, “Bubbles…bubbles…They outta write a song about bubble screens.”
This man, has clearly lost his mind. And probably given Taylor Swift an idea for her next album too.
9:29: Uhh ohh. Gruden is starting to get just as bored with this show as we are. After Pryor gives an answer that’s unsatisfactory, Gruden grunts out “Dumb answer.”
Someone get the man some more coffee and an energy bar. I think he’s starting to fade.
9:30: So what could cheer the old coach up? Dane Sanzenbacher of course!
If you haven’t heard, Gruden loves Sanzenbacher as much as he hates bubble screens. Which is to say, he loves Sanzenbacher a lot.
Anyway, before Pryor can get out a peep, Gruden follows up with his first Dane Sanzenbacher rant by saying, “You know, I work with Mike Tirico. He does golf. And he loves these guys with the four-syllable names. San-zen-bach-er!”
Umm, ok. So did you just want to go ahead and make your own Mike Tirico joke here, or did you want me to do it?
9:32: You know why Jon Gruden likes Sanzenbacher? Because he’s reliable, that’s why.
And in case you’re wondering, it really bothers Gruden that no one drafted him. As ESPN cuts to commercial break Gruden mumbles to himself, “What’s wrong with the world,” as Pryor looks on with a terrified, “This dude is crazy,” look.
SAN-ZEN-BACH-A!!!9:36: Back to the tape, where Gruden shows Pryor highlights of Ohio State’s Senior Day ceremony last year. After exchanging a nice back-and-forth, Pryor mentions what he’ll miss most about Ohio State, is that “We have high character. Our standards are very high.”
It’s true, you know. Like for example, did you know that they don’t even wear regular belts at Ohio State? Everything has to be Gucci.
No seriously. Look it up.
9:38: More tape, this of Pryor coming out of the tunnel with his Ohio State teammates.
Ok, let’s admit it: This kind of getting boring.
9:39: Blah, blah, something about Carmen, Ohio, blah, blah, beating Michigan, blah blah. As far as I’m concerned, let’s either get Pryor on the white board, or out on the practice field. We’re all losing interest here. No one more so than Gruden.
9:43: Back from commercial, and Gruden again says something I agree with, “I like the way this kid performs under pressure situations.” All I’ll say is, Pryor’s record as a starter was 33-4. Those numbers don’t lie.
9:45: The two are now watching tape from this year’s Iowa game, a game I distinctly remember watching, and distinctly remember thinking to myself, “Man, Terrelle Pryor can do things that no one else in college football- not even Cam Newton- can.” The guy was simply mesmerizing that night. Apparently, both Gruden, and yes, Pryor himself agree.
(Cut to every Iowa fan putting palm to face)
9:47: When in doubt… SANZENBACHER!
9:48: Gruden shows Pryor some tape of an “empty” package. Here Pryor is lined up in the backfield without a blocking running back, and proceeds to get driven 15 feet under the turf by Michigan’s defense. Gruden describes it as “Driving down the highway without a blindfold on.”
No mention of whether that car is registered or not.
9:50: Now we’re talking pass protection, which either makes you really excited as a football dork (like me), or really bored (like Pryor, who has a “Man, I wish I was hanging with the guys at the tattoo parlor,” look on his face).
9:51: I’ll tell you what, say what you want about Gruden, but he’s kinda, sorta talking me into Terrelle Pryor having a future as an NFL quarterback.
9:54: Actually, never mind.
Gruden pops on the quintessential Terrelle Pryor highlight tape, as T Peezy makes an off-balance, one-legged throw into triple-coverage that somehow, amazingly doesn’t get intercepted by an Arkansas defensive back (The only, logical reasoning behind that, is of course that Bobby Petrino refuses to practice defense).
Gruden follows up, adding, “When I saw that play I called my dad and said, ‘Did you see that Pryor kid??” Which is honestly, is kind of news to me. I never really considered the idea that Gruden actually had parents. I always just assumed he was created in a back laboratory of the FFCA complex or something.
9:55: Gruden wraps up the film session by asking Pryor what his long-term goals are. Without missing a beat, Pryor replies, “To make it to Canton, Ohio” although we’re not sure if that has anything to do with the Hall of Fame, or just that Pryor knows a memorabilia dealer out there who owes him some money.
9:56: We finally head out to the practice field, as Pryor works on his throws with a receiving corps that would best be described as, “an average intramural flag football team.” One “receiver” even pulls up his shirt to wipe away sweat, and reveals a pasty, pudgy stomach. Then again, I guess that’s not all that different from the wide receivers at Purdue, Indiana and Minnesota.
9:57: Cut to Gruden lined up at defensive back, dropping into coverage and knocking down one of Pryor’s passes. Hmm… how hard do you think Drew Rosenhaus worked to get that footage cut from the ESPN show? You think he threatened a lawsuit?
9:59: Finally we get Camp Counselor Gruden himself, gushing about his newest pet project. He calls Pryor a good listener, who, “I do think at the end of the day, is remorseful.”
And really, doesn’t that last line, just about sum up the show?
Yes it was fun. Yes I laughed. And yes I was entertained for 60 minutes.
At the same time, since Pryor barely got on the white board, and barely threw any passes, I don’t really know what to make of him as a quarterback prospect. And since he kept apologizing, without it ever being made explicitly clear what he was apologizing for, it’s hard for me to know if he is sincere.
Overall, I’d call this installment of Camp Gruden a weird hour, but a fun hour none the less.
Ohh, and one more thing…
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