Another Jameis Winston story that doesn’t involve the game football? Yep, another Jameis Winston story that doesn’t involve the game of football.
Lost amidst the ongoing saga that is the oft-delayed student code of conduct hearing is one involving the Florida State quarterback’s penmanship. Specifically, allegations that Winston had placed his Herbie Hancock on a thousand or more pieces of memorabilia in exchange for money, which, as Georgia’s Todd Gurley can attest, is a violation of antiquated and archaic NCAA bylaws.
Conducting its own investigation, FSU released a statement in mid-October which read, in part that “[a]t this time we have no information indicating that he accepted payment for items reported to bear his signature.” One memorabilia service, James Spence Authentication, has more than 1,000 items purported to be signed by Winston on its website. JSA has authenticated that the items were signed by Winston, although that authentication is now coming under significant scrutiny.
From an ESPN “Outside the Lines” report:
Five sources who spoke to “Outside the Lines” on the condition of anonymity said that James Spence Authentication got the items only after competitor PSA/DNA backed out of the February signing with Winston. PSA/DNA did so after being told that it couldn’t witness the quarterback signing the items in person, sources said.
OTL reported that “the submissions [available on JSA’s website] came from individuals who all got their items from a single signing arranged by a Florida memorabilia dealer named Donnie Burkhalter.” The alleged signing took place in Tallahassee this past February, with at least five autograph wholesalers paying Burkhalter between $30 to $40 per Winston autograph, OTL reported.
Burkhalter in the past has denied that he paid Winston for the autographs. JSA stands behind its authentication process.
The alleged connection between Winston and Burkhalter stems from the latter’s relationship with former Florida State and current Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman. Tony Fleming, Freeman’s agent, confirmed to OTL that Freeman approached Winston about doing a signing with Burkhalter, but the current Seminole QB said no.
It’s further alleged that Burkhalter and some of the autograph wholesalers had set up hotel rooms — plural — full of memorabilia for Winston to sign. However, sources told OTL that Winston didn’t show as planned. Instead, OTL wrote, “Burkhalter told those in attendance that Winston had decided he couldn’t do a signing in the hotel room and instead preferred to do it in an apartment.” It was at that point when a fishy situation really began to reek.
So, sources said, Burkhalter loaded the Florida State items into his truck and returned later with the items signed, telling those waiting back at the hotel that he had to give the batch of items to a person who then got the items signed inside the apartment.
Burkhalter again denied most of the allegations, with the memorabilia dealer telling OTL “that he has gotten items signed by Winston but has never compensated him.”
“He said he never told anyone that Freeman set up an autograph signing and doesn’t recall setting up items in a hotel for a Winston signing,” OTL wrote, adding that Burkhalter “said February was a long time ago, but he didn’t get anything close to 1,000 pieces signed by Winston for anyone.”
Suffice to say, whether the signatures on the 1,000 or more items on JSA’s website are indeed Winston’s has been called into question by autograph experts contacted by OTL.
One, Rich Albersheim of Albersheim’s Historical Memorabilia and Autographs in Las Vegas, said it would be tough to determine authenticity because he wasn’t comfortable with the lack of verified Winston representations or exemplars in the marketplace.
The other, Ron Keurajian, a Baseball Hall of Fame autograph specialist, said that in his opinion, “These Winston autographs from the supposed signing are done by more than one hand. His authentic signature is very unstructured, which makes it harder to authenticate, but there are many here that actually are structured very well.”
In completely unrelated news, perhaps one day the NCAA will remove its head from the sand and/or its rectum and allow “student-athletes” to profit off the very images that its member institutions use to rake in billions. Is a financial trust that can be tapped into after eligibility has expired too much to ask?