Raiders Terrelle Pryor aims to be another Western Pa. quarterback to torment the Steelers

Jared Wickerham

The legacy of quarterbacks from Western Pa. is well-established, but what's only a little less established is how those quarterbacks have done against the Steelers. The Steelers, in fact, have one of them on their roster now, who was in the same spot as Terrelle Pryor is now.

The NFL is all about the quarterback. There are $100 million contracts given to them, rules established to protect them and coaches hired and fired because of, or due to, them.

Western Pa., is known for its quarterbacks. From Broadway Joe to Jim Kelly to Marino, and so on, it's a hotbed for position success.

The ones from Pittsburgh tend to be anti-Steelers. Marino made the franchise pay for not drafting him with a run of success that lasted well over a decade while the Steelers struggled hugely to continue the legacy left by Louisiana's Terry Bradshaw. Kelly dominated the AFC in the early 90s.

Jeannette's Terrelle Pryor apparently steered the Steelers away from drafting him in the 2011 Supplemental Draft, which is probably just as well; he had no chance of starting for the Steelers as long as a healthy Ben Roethlisberger (an Ohio product) was on the roster. And no one would dispute that.

Pryor has his own chance to add a chapter to the legacy of Western Pa., quarterbacks who tormented his hometown team when his Oakland Raiders host the Steelers Sunday in Week 8.

The last chapter entered in that book might be able to give him some advice, but likely won't want to do it.

Dormont's Bruce Gradkowski - the Steelers back-up quarterback in 2013 - led a shocking and memorable comeback in 2009, throwing his way to three fourth-quarter touchdown passes and a 27-24 win over the Steelers.

Lo and behold, he was the quarterback of the Oakland Raiders.

The level of Pryor's success Sunday clearly isn't related to Gradkowski's from nearly four years ago. The stage is set, though, as both quarterbacks were similar kinds of players heading into those respective games.

Slashing, swashbuckling, unorthrodox and off-schedule, neither appear to have traits resembling those of prototypical pocket quarterbacks. Pryor has the build of a small forward, long-limbed and lanky. He has long speed, but is deceptively quick in short spaces.

Gradkowski isn't near the same kind of athlete Pryor is, but his elusiveness and guts that December afternoon gave the Steelers' defense fits.

The sun is more or less setting on Gradkowski's career - he'll never be a bona fide starter - but his style of play is becoming more of the norm. Making plays off-schedule, keeping eyes down field and avoiding pressure at the same time.

Don't let ESPN fool you, it's far from a new concept. Like most things in football, it's a revival of a strategy that went dormant for one reason or another. Pryor is a testament to that.

And he's aiming to be a testament to Western Pa., QBs of the past as well.

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