COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The NCAA has taken a hard line on active players selling memorabilia. Georgia's AJ Green was suspended five games for selling a game worn jersey. Five Ohio State players will sit out the first five games of the 2011 season for selling their Big Ten Championship rings and other memorabilia. And fans have made their feelings about this crystal clear: they're not happy.
But when it happens after players leave school, the reaction is entirely different.
"It's sad to see someone have to borrow money on an item like that, would be a once in a lifetime piece of jewelry, but sometimes people get desperate and have to desperate things," said Robbie Whitten, owner of Northside Pawn in Columbus.
At Northside Pawn a member of the 2004 undefeated Auburn Tigers was looking to sell his National Championship ring. Down on his luck, he felt he had no choice.
"You never know," Whitten said. "We don't try to get in too personal with the customers, clients. We keep it private"
This is the 2004 National Championship ring that the Auburn Tigers made for themselves when they were snubbed by the BCS, despite going 13-0.
"It's a beautiful ring as you can see, way bigger than my finger. Diamond encrusted; this is actually the 2004 Auburn Tigers National Championship ring; very heavy solid gold, beautiful piece. Would look really good in somebody's Auburn collection."
But, you won't find this ring in the display cases as Northside Pawn. That's because Whitten keeps it hidden away, in hopes that the player will come back for it.
"He actually took it in at our Auburn location and then the guy didn't come back for it so I bought it and brought it over to Columbus with the hopes that he might come back and get it. So we've had it about six months now."
While some say memorabilia like this is priceless, die hards have already put a price on it: "generally 15-hundred to three-thousand dollar range." Whitten estimated.
A.J. Green and the five Ohio State Buckeyes have more football ahead of them -- and more chances to earn more hardware. But for this anonymous former Tiger, all he has left are the memories of that perfect season.
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