Friday afternoon, a group of users at the time tested community that is Buckeye Planet unearthed a rather interesting discovery regarding an individual representing himself as having been a member of the 1976 Rose Bowl runner up Buckeyes:
I came across something peculiar recently. There's this Buckeyes fan club in Charlotte, that celebrates one former Buckeye All-American Tight End by the name of Giovanni Strassini. He "won the Rose Bowl in 1974 with Archie, Cornelius Green, Pete Johnson and the rest," says the page. He also "caught an 8 yard touchdown pass in the 1976 Rose Bowl", and "was drafted by the Cleveland Browns as the 162nd player picked in the 1977 NFL Draft," according to his Facebook page. Not only that, "Mr. Strassini is also a member of the OSU Football All-Century Team!" say the Charlotte Buckeyes.
Ever heard of this guy? Because I did not.
With BP crowdsourcing their findings, it only got weirder from there. The box score of said Rose Bowl failed to corroborate such a claim of a touchdown being scored by an individual sharing that name and there's no evidence in the records of the '76 nor '77 NFL Draft of anyone by that name being selected by the Browns (or anyone else for that matter). There was also the matter of a purported Rose Bowl ring:
BP reader Buckeye_Manic noticed some subtle design differences between ring he could find archived proof of the jewelry from a previous Rose Bowl champion side (the '74 team) and that represented on the individual's Facebook profile page as being his own (the profile appears to have been disabled and his Twitter account since made private).
Those changes appear to have originated from a Verizon ISP IP address that originated in Montreal, and initially misspelled Strassini's name as "Giova SStroh".
Lost Lettermen went one step further, reaching out to Ohio State's football SID, Jerry Emig for insight into the situation:
I cannot find any documentation that Giovanni Strassini was ever a member of Ohio State's football teams. I won't go so far as to say that he wasn't part of the team...as a walk-on for a season or two and just didn't appear on the rosters, but the following resources were used to determine that he wasn't listed on any Ohio State rosters.
- Rosters from official media guides from 1971-77 do not list him.
- Rose Bowl media guides for 1973 and 1974 do not list him as a member of Ohio State's roster.
- Ohio State's 2005-06 edition of the Varsity O - official letterman's club - director do not list him as a letterwinner.
- We do not list anyone by that name as an All-American in any of our All-American lists.
- The list of letterman in Ohio State media guides does not list him as a letterwinner.
Additionally, our Chris Webb reports there's no records that a "Giovanni Strassini" ever played baseball at Ohio State either during the four years mentioned or at any other time.
Adding to the bizarreness of the narrative as a whole, Buckeye Planet reader MolGenBuckeye and Lost Lettermen alike both uncovered legal cases involving a Mr. Strassini (the latter under the name 'John' but also originating from Charlotte):
To corroborate his fictitious professional history and to generate funds for his businesses, Strassini fabricated federal income tax returns, Forms 1040 for himself and Forms 1120 for his two businesses. With these returns, the defendant claimed that he was the founder and CEO of multi-million dollar construction enterprises. He also sought the services of reputable accounting firms to create financial statements for his corporations. Strassini used these documents to secure loans and lines of credit for residential construction projects
Lost Lettermen's findings seemed to make reference to time spent in a North Carolina federal prison. Yikes.
It's probably Pollyannaish to make positive assumptions in a situation like this, but let's hope superficial personal glory was the driving factor in creating such an elaborate backstory and not something more sinister.