A former college football player thought he was taking part in a tryout at Atlanta Falcons rookie minicamp. But when Juantarius Bryant arrived at the team's facility, he realized he was a victim of a hoax. Bryant, who played defensive back at Austin Peay, was never contacted by the Falcons. Instead, he was contacted by a person with an Atlanta area code pretending to be Falcons coordinator Dean Pees.
"I do not know or understand why this has happened," Bryant wrote in a Twitter message. "But I do know that everything happens for a reason. Yes, this was heartbreaking for me, but just another stepping stone that I am not afraid to admit or overcome. At the end of the day, this will not make or break me. I will still continue to fight for my dreams because I know it's what I really want. I'm still striving and still in the best shape of my life. When the opportunity presents itself, I will be ready."
Bryant said he didn't "realize it was not a legit opportunity until I traveled to the facility for rookie minicamp check-in on Wednesday, May 12." He also said the experience was "one of the most embarrassing things that have ever happened to me and a very humbling experience." Bryant declined an interview with ESPN but did respond to the network in an email.
"I am ready to move on from the situation, and respectfully I do not feel like talking about it over and over again," Bryant said in the email. "Yes, whoever did this to me is very wrong, but I'm moving on from the situation, and I forgive them for whatever reason they chose to do it. Honestly would not like the person who pulled this stunt on me to be publicly humiliated. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy."
The Falcons have not commented on the apparent hoax, but Bryant's agent, Corey Alexander, said that he has been in touch with the Falcons about the incident. Alexander told ESPN he is "frustrated with this, and I haven't seen it before. Working in football, I have never seen this happen. So I hope that it ends." Bryant is a Nashville, Tennessee native and had a standout career at Austin Peay. In 43 games, Bryant totaled 242 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and eight passes defended three forced fumbles and an interception.