ATHENS — Bryan Allen has told his sleazy story to ESPN.com and Sports Illustrated.
The Northwest Georgia sports memorabilia dealer who brought down Georgia star tailback Todd Gurley shared details with reporters from those two media outlets recently. Allen admitted to being in a car with Gurley last March and videotaping the proceedings as Gurley signed dozens of items for him and fellow memorabilia dealer Shane Smith for $400. The cash transaction took place in the parking lot of Gurley’s apartment complex last March.
Allen claims he never intended to bring any harm to Gurley or the University of Georgia. Nevertheless, Allen’s attempts to leak the story to media for money, then turning over his information to UGA’s compliance officers resulted in Gurley getting suspended for four games for accepting improper benefits as an NCAA athlete.
“I never wanted to screw over Gurley,” said in Brett McMurphy’s story on ESPN.com. “I never wanted to screw over their fans or anything like that. That was never my intention. I wish I had never even gone down there. It’s not worth it.”
Both Allen and Smith have declined interview requests from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Allen paints Smith as the chief conspirator in the scheme sell Gurley-signed merchandise on eBay in memorabilia stories. He claims Smith had an arrangement with Gurley going back to his freshman season in 2012. Gurley would sign footballs, helmets, jerseys and 8×10 glossy photos that the men would have authenticated, then sell mainly through online distributors.
“I have never contacted any (players),” Allen said. “I’ve never brokered a deal. I never called a player, never set up a signing. That’s a huge part I want out there. This guy (Smith) came to me and asked me will you help me with this? You can’t put the blame on one person, because everyone’s equally to blame. All I had to do was tell him no and none of this happens. I do take responsibility. My intentions were never to get rich.
“I think people think I was this autograph broker that was dangling this carrot in front of these young college kids and that’s the furthest thing from it. I was not an autograph broker.”
Smith also refused to be interviewed by ESPN and SI. His attorney Brad McFall, with whom The AJC has also had contact, spoke on his behalf: “At this time, we see no benefit in commenting as to the accuracy or inaccuracy of Mr. Allen’s comments.”
Some other revelations from Allen in the story:
On his involvement with Gurley …
“People think it was just me, but it wasn’t. All the parties were guilty. And I regret it. This could come out and this could infuriate people. They could say this stupid guy is trying to get famous off this.”
In confessing his part in the scheme. …
“In my head I was thinking I shouldn’t lie, what if it was someone that bought this piece? They said they were investigating it. If you sell a counterfeit autograph, that’s a felony so I came clean with it. I told him I didn’t want to talk about it and hung up.”
On being a Florida fan …
“I’m not some secret Florida fan that is trying to sabotage Georgia’s football program. I made the mistake of going down there.”
On his motivations ….
“I want everyone to know that I did not try to make money. Last thing I want is to be in the public eye. I can’t go find a job right here. Perception of me is I was an autograph dealer that got wronged and I turned my back on one of the players and screwed him over. That’s not what happened. That’s not what I did.”