Artie Burns’ agent fires back at TMZ story saying he went on a jewelry run

A TMZ story posted early Thursday morning said former Hurricanes cornerback Artie Burns dropped $41,000 on jewelry in a New York City store this week, hoping to look fresh for the NFL Draft.

Those close to Burns say:

“That’s [expletive].”

Those were the words of Melvin Bratton, Burns’ agent and a former Hurricanes running back. He said the celebrity jeweler who spoke to TMZ about Burns’ alleged run, Joe Avianne, had several key details wrong and was looking to capitalize on a marketing opportunity.


Bratton said Burns, who is shown in a TMZ photo posing with Avianne, did purchase jewelry from him. However, he said Burns did not spend anywhere near the $41,000 total TMZ reported. Avianne told TMZ that Burns “picked up a 2-tone Rolex ($19k), a diamond cross ($3k) and a diamond tennis chain ($19k).”

Bratton didn’t have receipts handy, but said the watch Burns purchased was a used model worth “maybe $5,000.”

Bratton also said Burns made his purchases Feb. 19, not this week.

“That guy’s trying to do some marketing. This time of year people prey on kids,” said Bratton, a longtime NFL personnel man and scout before he earned his agent certification three years ago. “Look at the timing. Every year something like this happens. People try to capitalize.”

In an interview with the Post earlier this month for a story about Burns, Bratton commented how impressed he was that Burns didn’t act recklessly, as some pros-in-waiting do.

“For a kid at 20, he didn’t buy a car,” Bratton said in that interview. “Some potential draftees, they’ll go spend on everything, like a dream, within a four-month period. For a guy who could really use a car, he didn’t get one. He didn’t take out a big line of credit, just enough to maintain. That’s very, very rare.”

Speaking after he learned of the TMZ story:

“He doesn’t have $41,000,” Bratton said. “He doesn’t even have a car.”

Bratton expressed similar disdain when he was informed of comments made by a 247Sports reporter that seemed to insinuate that Burns used money donated by well-wishers to buy jewelry. After Burns’ mother, Dana Smith, died suddenly last October, UM set up a GoFundMe account for fans to donate to help pay for funeral and related expenses. The account swelled past $40,000 in six hours before UM was forced to close it.

On Thursday a reporter for recruiting website 247Sports, Josh Newberg, tweeted a link to the TMZ story and commented that it was, “Odd considering Miami set up a gofundme account that raised 40K for his mothers funeral just 6 months ago.” Newberg continued to tweet with people about the story, many of whom were Hurricanes fans irritated with the perceived insinuation. In several different conversations, Newberg maintained that he might “feel weird” if he donated money to Burns and then saw the TMZ story.

“That’s a dumb-[expletive] comment,” Bratton said, using another choice word to describe Newberg.

Bratton said that account still has some $20,000 left in it – and Burns doesn’t have access to it. UM controls the access.

Newberg later deleted his original post.

“We’re not worried about all this,” Bratton said.

Bratton said Burns will have a small gathering at a family member’s home to celebrate the draft, which begins at 8 p.m. Thursday with first-round coverage. An ESPN camera crew will be there, the Miami Herald reported. Burns is considered by many analysts to be a second-round pick, but could sneak into the first round.


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