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Last updated: 06/09/2011 3:48 PM

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Pryor’s Lawyer Calls ESPN Story “Bogus”
By Brandon Castel

Terrelle Pryor is no longer the quarterback of the Ohio State Buckeyes, but that is not stopping his lawyer from coming to his defense.

Appearing on SiriusXM's "Jason & The GM" show on satellite radio Thursday morning, Larry James called the current NCAA system a form of “slavery.” He also said that his client may consider suing ESPN over their “Outside the Lines” report that accused Pryor of selling autographed memorabilia.

“The story is close to being reckless and malice and over the line,” said James, a Columbus attorney with a history of working with Ohio State.

“And that’s something that Terrelle, at the appropriate time, may look at once he gets in a position to say, ‘I have the wherewithal to bring that lawsuit.’”

The report by Tom Farrey and Justine Gubar quotes an unnamed former friend of Pryor’s, who says the former Ohio State quarterback “often received preferential treatment in the Columbus community.”

That included free food, drinks and tattoos, but also anywhere between $20,000-40,000 for autographed memorabilia from a local freelance photographer named Dennis Talbott.

Talbott has denied ever helping Pryor obtain money for his signature, and Pryor’s lawyer doesn’t believe he could have delivered that kind of cash even if he wanted to.

“I know Dennis Talbott. I don't mean to belittle Dennis Talbott but Dennis Talbott is not a deep-pockets player. This is out of his league,” James said Thursday.

“He does not have this kind of cash. He is not one of those dealers that one would say has the ability to be buying and selling of memorabilia.”

The 40-year old photographer has shot photos for a number of major publications, including Getty Images. He also sold photos to ESPN and certainly seemed to have some type of relationship with the players.

He also may have had access to large amounts of cash, according to the ESPN report which said his businesses owed the Internal Revenue Service nearly $300,000 and the state of Ohio nearly $75,000 for unpaid taxes 

“Dennis was a part-time photographer who knew a lot of players. He was known around town. He is harmless,” James continued.

“He definitely did not have that kind of wherewithal to do that kind of stuff and that story is just bogus.”

James said that most Pryor’s violations were limited to selling of memorabilia during his freshman and sophomore seasons at Ohio State and that he was not aware of any further violations uncovered since then.

That includes the current investigation into Pryor’s use of loaner cars.

“There is nothing, I don’t believe there is ever anything that is going to be NCAA-related violations on the use of cars by Terrelle,” James said.

“So that issue is off the table.”

So if that isn’t what drove Pryor to leave Ohio State on Tuesday, then what was it? According to James, Pryor’s decision to forgo his senior season with the Buckeyes came after he no longer felt welcome in Columbus.

“Terrelle looked at a situation where it was a hornet's nest to try to continue to play football at Ohio State whether he was cleared or not,” James said.

He also said that his client would likely not be heading to the Canadian Football League, where the Saskatchewan Roughriders hold the rights to his negotiations. James told the Associated Press that Pryor was looking toward to the NFL’s supplemental draft and that he would be hiring an agent and trainer in the near future.

He is also happy to be done with his time as an indentured servant, says James.

“You've got a captured system here in college football. It's mandated, dictated, the student-athletes have no rights. They have no relief,” James told Jason Horowitz and Steve Phillips, the former New York Mets general manager and ESPN analyst.

“It's an archaic, draconian process by which you are basically financed for about 9 1/2 months of your school year and then you're to find the money for whatever else is left. You live in basically poverty throughout that period and you're making a million dollars for institutions.”

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