- Former Austin Peay football player Juantarius Bryant has received an offer to attend an NFL tryout after being catfished by someone claiming to be a coach for the Atlanta Falcons
- The defensive back said falling victim to the hoax was “the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened”
- Read more NFL news here
In November 2012, the first episode of Catfish aired on MTV to provide us with a truly fascinating look at the bizarre world of people who get their kicks by posing as someone else online to dupe unsuspecting victims into a relationship built on a foundation of lies.
A few months later, the show received some truly invaluable inadvertent publicity courtesy of the infamous Deadspin article concerning Manti Te’o’s girlfriend Lennay Kekua, the fictitious Standford University student the linebacker said had died of leukemia at the start of his senior season at Notre Dame but who was actually the creation of a dude named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.
The high-profile hoax was one of the most bizarre catfishing scandals you’ll ever encounter, and while it’s hard to imagine a football player will ever come close to being tricked in the same fashion as Te’o, former Austin Peay defensive back Juantarius Bryant recently gave him a run for his money after falling victim to a ruse orchestrated by someone claiming to be a coach for the Atlanta Falcons.
Last weekend, Bryant revealed he’d received a text from someone claiming to be defensive coordinator Dean Pees offering him a tryout with the team only to discover he’d been had when he arrived at training camp.
It’s been a rough few days, but I felt the need to clear the air and get this off my chest. Honestly ready to move on from the situation. pic.twitter.com/yUJELOstZW
— Juantarius Bryant (@TheyLoveMyHair_) May 15, 2021
However, it looks like the story may have a happy ending, as ESPN reports Bryant has been invited to try out in front of reps from the Falcons and other NFL teams during a showcase this weekend.
HUB Football has invited Austin Peay DB, Juantarius Bryant to its May 23 event, per source. Bryant was the victim of a tryout hoax last week, but now will attend the HUB event, as will the Falcons and others. Veteran agent Don Yee founded HUB as a new path for players to the NFL. https://t.co/doP5S5ggqz
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 17, 2021
Based on everything I’ve seen, Bryant has handled this situation about as well as you can. He’s taken full responsibility for falling for the hoax and has refused to publicly name the identity of the person responsible behind it to protect them from harassment. As a result, you have to be happy to hear he’ll get an actual shot at redemption.
With that said…
*throws on a tinfoil hat*
When I came across the initial story, I couldn’t help but think there’s no better way for a largely forgotten college football player to get the chance to earn a spot on an NFL team than manufacturing a sob story about getting tricked into a fake tryout before getting the invite to an actual one you had to know he was going to receive after the tale started to make the rounds.
Do I have any evidence to prove that this is indeed the case? Of course not! It’s a conspiracy theory; my job is to make everyone else prove that I’m wrong and assume I’m correct until proven otherwise—which is exactly what I’m going to do here.