Some of us are old enough to remember when getting free tattoos made you the scapegoat of your athletic program. That now means we’re old enough to see that college athletes are getting free tattoos as part of their NIL deals.
Eleven years after former Ohio State star quarterback Terrelle Pryor was banned from the program all because he made some money on the side by signing autographs and got some free tattoos, Mississippi State wide receiver Jordan Mosley is poised to make history by becoming the first NIL athlete with a tattoo deal, as he’s signed on with celebrity tattoo artist Vin Vega. Apparently, Vega will get endorsements from Mosley which will lead to some “pro bono” artwork.
“I don’t currently have any deals with any other college athletes,” Vega told SI. “But I’m sure that after this one they’ll start piling up.”
This is the part where I remind you that in 2011, Pryor served a five-game suspension in the NFL due to some of those “free tattoos.”
It was all so stupid.
“I believe it is a fair conclusion that he intentionally took steps to ensure that he would be declared ineligible for further college play and would be able to enter the NFL via the supplemental draft,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the time in a news release about what led to Pryor’s suspension in the pros from some non-criminal things he did in college. “Taken as a whole, I found that this conduct was tantamount to a deliberate manipulation of our eligibility rules in a way that distorts the underlying principles and calls into question the integrity of those rules.”
Instead of playing his senior year at Ohio State, Pryor decided he was done with the drama and left school. He was eventually drafted in the third round of the supplemental draft, but only after Goodell approved it because he was originally not going to be allowed to enter.
“In my judgment, allowing players to secure their own ineligibility for college play in order to avoid previously determined disciplinary consequences for admitted conduct reflects poorly not on college football — which acted to discipline the transgressor — but on the NFL, by making it into a sanctuary where a player cannot only avoid the consequences of his conduct, but be paid for doing so,” Goodell said on the matter.
Look how far we’ve come.
“I’ve always liked tattoos and I’ve always wanted tattoos. Everyone knows about the whole Terrelle Pryor thing where at the time, NIL wasn’t a thing,” Mosley told SI. “So, he got in a bit of trouble for that. For me, I think this is a big step in the right direction for NIL deals because there’s a lot more that can come about from this.”
On one hand, it’s cool to see college athletes being able to have opportunities like this through NIL — even though they still aren’t getting paid the money they rightfully deserve from their schools and conferences through these billion-dollar media rights deals. But on the other hand, it sucks for people like Terrelle Pryor, Chris Webber and the Fab Five, and others that are seeing schools be OK with what once made them black sheep.
If athletic directors were smart, they’d be welcoming their former greats back to campus with open arms and delivering apologies. But who am I kidding, this is a system built on exploitation and unpaid employment — that would never happen. On Thursday morning the Big Ten announced a seven-year deal with Fox, CBS, and NBC worth more than $7 billion.