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The Man Behind A.J. Green's Suspension Is a Former Carolina Player

I've held back posting this week, through the revelations that John Blake contacted California agent Gary Wilchard with a ridiculous frequency last fall, and the four-game suspension for A.J. Green because I didn't really have much of an opinion on the events. They were preludes to big things happening to UNC, rather than major blows. So how am I rewarded? With the news that the man who paid A.J. Green a thousand dollars for his jersey was a former Carolina defensive back named Chris Hawkins.

Hawkins spent three years at UNC, from 2001 to 2003, before being dismissed after a fight with an unnamed teammate. He finished his college career with Marshall, and went undrafted before briefly signing with the Redskins. Since then he's mainly palled around with former roommate Willie Parker as his manager, and ESPN has quotes from the agent who represents Parker, Hakeem Nicks, and Richard Quinn saying that players ask Hawkins to vet potential agents for them. Hawkins and the agent in question claim that they have done nothing improper.

That could be believable except Hawkins also claims he had no idea giving A.J. Green a thousand dollars was an NCAA violation:

"I didn't come at A.J. like a marketer or an agent," Hawkins said. "I'm not an agent. I talked to him about 'Good game this' and 'Good game that.' I wanted the jersey because I collect jerseys."    

This stretch credulity a little too much. That a former college player who frequently investigates agents for players would not think giving a player a thousand dollars for university property would be an NCAA violation is absolutely ridiculous. I often express bewilderment at NCAA regulations, but even I have the sense to know that if the action ends with a player getting a grand, it's probably verboten and I may want to crack a rulebook or something before I go through with it. Throw in the inconvenient facts that Hawkins just sought Green out on Facebook, and that the performance that whetted his collector appetite was a six-catch, 57-yard evening in the Independence Bowl, and the guy comes out of this looking very shady. And possibly unprosecutable, as although the NCAA considers him "an individual who meets the definition of an agent," it's not sure the world at large considers him one. But hey, back in July he was reported to be "heavily involved in the recruitment of [Kendric] Burney, which has raised a few eyebrows from agents courting the players." Burney has yet to be cleared to play this year.