Even as the career of Terrelle Pryor at Ohio State came to an abrupt end earlier this week, the soap opera that was the quarterback’s three years in Columbus continues unabated.
A former, unnamed friend of Pryor alleged on an ESPN Outside the Lines report Tuesday, the same day Pryor announced he was giving up his final season of eligibility, that he had witnessed Dennis Talbot paying Pryor anywhere between $20,000 and $40,000 in 2009-10 in exchange for Pryor’s signature on various pieces of OSU memorabilia. In an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer Thursday, the Columbus photographer/purported memorabilia maven vehemently denied that he had paid anything to the player, let alone an amount the five-figure numbers thrown out by OTL.
“They are potentially destroying people’s lives,” Talbott told Doug Lesmerises of the Plain Dealer over the phone. “It’s not true. I haven’t given him a dollar. I haven’t given him anything perceived as an improper benefit.”
In an interview Thursday on Sirius/XM in which he hinted at possible legal action against ESPN for what he described as a “bogus” report, Pryor’s attorney, Larry James, said that he knew Talbott but that the “part-time photographer… is not a deep-pocket player.”
“This is out of his league, he doesn’t have that kind of cash,” James said yesterday. “He is not one of those dealers that one would say ‘Dennis has the ability to negotiate the buying and selling of memorabilia that Terrelle has signed.’ No, Dennis was a part-time photographer that knew a lot of the players, guy around town, most of us knew him. He was basically harmless, he is no big deal, and he definitely did not have the wherewithal to do that kind of stuff.”
Talbott concurred with James’ assessment of him as a small-time player.
“I don’t have the wherewithal to do that,” Talbott told the paper. “I just don’t. …
“I have never made it a secret that Terrelle and I have a relationship. I’d like for people to show a picture of me pulling out my wallet or putting something on my tab. These things don’t exist. People say things that aren’t accurate.”
The dogged and tireless Brooks of SportsByBrooks.com, who reported earlier in the week that checks with Talbott’s name on them had been deposited into Pryor’s bank account, reported early Friday morning that a now-defunct, unregistered-in-the-state-of-Ohio website called varsityomem.com had been selling signed OSU memorabilia — including Pryor items — going back several years. A “Varsity O Memorabilia” Facebook page, last updated two months ago Brooks writes, “features some of the product procured by Talbott over the years from dozens of Buckeye football and basketball players.” According to Brooks, Talbott was the only registered owner of the varsityomem.com website.
Additionally, the Plain Dealer reported that Pryor and another unnamed Buckeye football player had in the past played golf on at least five occasions with Talbott at a Columbus-area country club. Because of Talbott’s membership at the club, Pryor and the unnamed player were permitted to play for free, which would constitute impermissible benefits and an NCAA violation.
That’s not exactly the way Talbot sees it, however.
Talbott said he did not golf with the players that many times, adding, “Even if I golfed with him, it’s not an NCAA violation.” Talbott said he never paid for any players to golf with him.
Finally, and something that may or may not be apropos of anything, Talbott drives around in a Buckeyes-themed vehicle with vanity plates that read… wait for it… “T PRYOR”.
Now, I don’t know the extent of Talbott’s relationship with Pryor or if any NCAA violations were committed because of the relationship, but I do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a 40-year-old, grown-ass man willingly driving around with a college football player’s name on his license plates pegs and obliterates the “creepy” meter.