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Giovanni Strassini: A Football Fantasy
May 21, 2013 - 2:43 AM - by vrbryant
For continued developments, see the main thread.
Talk about a self-made man.
Four days ago, a simple question was posed to a small (but committed) community of Ohio State football fans.
Did anyone among them remember Giovanni Strassini?
Oddly enough, no one did. It was odd because the most readily available information indicated that Strassini had achieved so much in his career. Initial research revealed that he had been a tight end for the Buckeyes from 1973 to 1977, an All-American in both football and baseball, had shared in the 1974 Rose Bowl win over the USC Trojans, was drafted by the Cleveland Browns before leaving the NFL to play minor league baseball, and eventually named to the Ohio State All-Century Team.
Quite a guy. No Chuck Csuri or anything, but still--pretty impressive.
As many former star athletes do, Strassini found a way to generate some discretionary income simply by being himself: showing up at organized events in and around Charlotte, North Carolina, signing autographs, glad-handing. Nothing wrong with that.
Within an hour of the original post, the jig was well on its way to being up. There was no record of him in the available Ohio State football record books. Nothing about his All-American status. Certainly nothing about him scoring that famous touchdown in the '76 Rose Bowl versus UCLA (apologies to Pete Johnson).
Amazingly, even the Ohio State University Archives office came up empty.
By e-mail, archivist Lindy Smith noted, "[Strassini] also doesn't appear in any of our campus directories, the campus newspaper, or the yearbook."
That's right. There is no record of a Giovanni (or John) Strassini having even been enrolled as a student at Ohio State in the mid-1970s.
At the same time that he kept coming up absent from the archives, the community kept finding more and more erroneous claims on Strassini's Facebook page, Twitter feed, and various other outlets. Pictures of a '74 Rose Bowl championship ring with the number 89 on it surfaced immediately (apologies to Lenny Willis et al).
Even a snippet on the Internet Movie Database listed Strassini as 'Himself - Ohio St. Buckeyes Tight End' in the 1976 TV Movie, 1976 Rose Bowl. For a guy with such a flair for the dramatic, you'd think he'd have starred in more pictures. Fakin' 2: Electric Google-oo, maybe.
In a wonderful turn of irony, the tool Strassini appeared to have used to pen his own legend - the internet - was exactly what looks to have exposed him as a charlatan.
One has to wonder where and how it all began. Was Strassini in a bar, spinning a drunken yarn of football glory that never was, when it occurred to him that there might be a future in that? Preposterous. But then, it's hard to come up with an explanation that isn't.
The ring is especially peculiar. It shows his name on the side next to a number that almost certainly wasn't his and is different in a number of specific ways to other images of rings from that game. A knock-off for sure, but close enough that the intent is clear: it was ordered as a custom replica. And a poor one at that.
The only purpose for a ring like that is to fool a person into thinking you're someone that you're not. Even if that person is yourself.
There begins the ever-increasingly long list of questions about who Giovanni "John Daley" Strassini really is. Additional research has pointed to a "lengthy criminal history" and connections between a company he registered (JDS Consultants) and Community Mortgage Assistance Program, the latter of which was under attack from the North Carolina Attorney General's office for charging its customers illegal fees as part of purported foreclosure assistance. (This connection has since been called into question.)
Before that, in 1997, a John Strassini, then president of JDS Builders Inc., faced foreclosure of a number of properties after NationsBank claimed a debt of more than a million dollars.
Somewhere in there, it's noted that he has served time in federal prison.
The more you dig, the more it appears that while Strassini may not be an evil man, he has certainly faced his share of challenges and hardships. How a person reacts to adversity, of course, can be very telling, and reacting with fraud is typically frowned upon.
Now, we don't truly know if Strassini is the one behind these fabrications. As it turned out in the Manti Te'o/imaginary girlfriend hoax, the principal character in the ruse was merely an accomplice--not the evil mastermind. But unlike Te'o, who was simply trying to conceal an absurd prank and spare his team the inevitable media feeding frenzy, Strassini has been posing as this legendary athlete with what at least would appear to be the intent to gain financially from the university's image. That, one would think, will not fly with Ohio State.
And if the players involved in the recent memorabilia-for-tattoos exchange program scandal faced public scorn, you can imagine what the popular reaction will be if this narrative stays on its current arc.
The silver lining so far in this silly story is certainly that it has nothing to do with the current Ohio State football team. Strassini has no connections to the program and is therefore unable to further pollute the well--or even to stand idly by why someone else pulls the strings.
The flip side is that until Strassini himself comes forward, it's unlikely that questions remaining about Strassini the human being will have concrete answers.
Then again, the internet is a hard hound from which to hide.
- V. R. Bryant
4 Replies | 1,167 Views
Spring Drive 2013
Mar 01, 2013 - 2:39 AM - by Clarity
tl;dr - "I'm ready to donate - quick, link me!"
The new (and the old) bling -- credit to JWinslow for the banner work:
Here we are again folks. This time last year my intent was to run an abbreviated Spring Drive, and then have our 'normal' push in the Fall. My thinking was that the Summer is always lean because of a precipitous downturn in traffic and ad revenue after NSD, and that pain extends into the Fall until the uptick in ad income starts to roll in (we generally get paid 30-90 days after the end of a given month). So the thinking was/is good, but who wants to think about the drive once football is actually underway? Not me. Not you. So let's carry forward as we have in years past. The goal over the years as the emergent nature of the drives has waned was to be increasingly low-key. We've definitely accomplished that, and to the credit of the community, total donations over the whole of the year haven't fallen off as much as one might expect. So why fix what's not broken, at least in the case of a mechanism that is meant to be as benign and passive as reasonably possible.
I told Deety (who has done an absolutely outstanding job writing up the drives from year to year) that I intended to do the write up this year because there are a few things to talk about and this seemed like a good time and place to do it. Certainly about the drive itself, and yes, Longwood will be adding 2013 banners today and/or tomorrow -- but I always want to talk about the site and how we move forward. The nature of the game online, in terms of fan communities, has changed a bit, mostly in good ways. But with that environmental change has come a little bit of a vacuum here at BP. Where and how do we fit in? More on that, and how the drive and this discussion fit into that discussion, below.
I've broken this down into sections, so pick and choose what you like OR (and this may be what I recommend) skip the boring wall of text with several instances, of bad comma, usage, and scroll down to the bottom to read about all the vcash you'll get for participating! Faster, more fun, fewer words!
For those who follow along with my health issues, no news is mostly good news. I still have the same battery of issues we've discussed in the past. The Lupus, Scleraderma, COPD, organ and tissue damage, "Mixed Connective Tissue Disease" cocktail that we learned a couple (a few?) years ago was the product of toxic water exposure in utero in 1971 when I was all up inside my mother down in junior officer housing, Tarawa Terrace, in Camp Lejeune, NC. Many of you have seen "Semper Fi: Always Faithful" the documentary that was made about exactly that situation, and the good fight led by a man who lost his daughter to that exposure named Jerry Ensminger. Others have seen recent coverage on NBC's Rock Center, or even local coverage about the issue. This is all terrific, because it's exposure and pressure (one hopes) that will get the Marine Corps away from their "not our fault our Marines, Sailors, and their families think they've been hurt by the contamination" and *towards* "always faithful", taking care of their own. A report, said to be damning, from the CDC is overdue, and that's likely going to go a long way towards what will still be a protracted and difficult fight, and I'll be flat surprised if any real relief comes to those actually impacted -- which may well be the whole point. Reduce cost and exposure, the 'enemy' is suffering steady attrition. But enough about that. 2011 was my best year, from a health standpoint, since 1998 or so; at least for a few months over the Spring and Summer. 2012 was a bit of a step back. I'm cautiously optimistic about 2013. We'll see how it goes. The key point here, and what makes this little stroll though my situation relevant, is that Jo (Longwood) and I remain eternally appreciative to our friends here, and this community as a whole, from quite literally rescuing us from what was shaping up to be a bit of a tragedy pre-diagnosis when the world was collapsing in on top of us. Those early drives, and support from folks here, got us through a period that was bad enough that I didn't rationally see realistic paths out. So as I have before, I thank you again, and BP stands today because of your friendship and support.
BP, as I suggested above, lives in an ever-changing environment. When it launched, there were few sources of quality and timely information for fans. And these sources (at times) did two things with that information; (1) they lorded and dangled it over people with winks and nudges, tantalizing and teasing, and in some particularly unfortunate cases used their knowledge to elevate their own standing or sense of self worth in the community - "I know something you don't, and maybe I'll tell you if you fawn enough!", (2) they charged money for it, but knowing that they had a bit of a monopoly, the bang for your buck was pretty limited. Note carefully that this is NOT a condemnation of any site or their past or present practices, we have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for ALL Buckeye fan sites, commercially driven or not. Much of what was sold in the earlier days wasn't much different than the type of post or speculation you'd find in the regular forums. Fast forward to now, and consider the likes of Eleven Warriors, Land-Grant Holy Land, Buckeye Banter, The Buckeye Battle Cry, and all of the other blogs (I'm omitting lots of good ones, but the list could go on for lines and lines and an inventory isn't my point, apologies to the fantastic efforts left unsaid). This is EXACTLY what I envisioned back in the day, the community serving itself. Passionate people with the time and opportunity to step forward and deliver top notch content without dangling, without teasing, and without charging. I never suggested that would wipe out the opportunity for pay sites to charge for premium content, what I did suggest is that it would raise the quality bar in terms of what those who were willing to pay would get. And let's, of course, not forget the O-Zone where John Porentas and his crew have been fighting that same battle as a full-featured site covering ALL OSU sports, bringing quality original content to the community, with no strings attached, for 18 years. Add to this what's available (if one has exceptional filters) on Twitter and other forms of social media -- it is a *fantastic* time to be a fan. Quality information is free, accessible, rich in quality and quantity.
So where, oh where, does BP fit in? We're a community. Some say a quirky community given how tight a grip we maintain on our respect-the-kids philosophy. We don't and never have worked as a destination for certain posters, the sort that need to rage petulantly at a given player because something didn't go according to our plans as fans. That's good. That's great, actually. So we're that. But what else are we? What's our ongoing purpose in the community, what keeps us relevant? I think in many ways it's more of the same. Encouraging people to step up and contribute what's inside them, even (especially?) if that means they move on to launch their own products or bring their expertise to other sites. It doesn't matter where people take it, it matters that we remain a place for people to find their voice in whatever way they desire. So as much as this is a call for a discussion about what BP should be doing going forward, it is also a strong call to action. Step up and get involved. The amazing mods and admins around here, the people who drive the great recruiting information, who used to do the absolute best (bar none) game previews on the net, the people who drive the bookie, and contribute to discussions WORTH having -- they all started out by registering, making their first post, and involving themselves to the degree in which they were comfortable. So many sites casually say "by the community, for the community." That's all we are. BP is what BP's community brings to it. In 2013, we need to get back to innovating and bringing more to the table. Do you like to break down games the way mgoblog does? Do you like to do statistical analysis about recruiting ranking accuracy? Do you just like to get into MS Paint... [Read More]
154 Replies | 18,659 Views
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