A Firsthand Account Of A Night On The Town With The Fake Vince Young
The first thing that Jon Pastore and his friends noticed about the man who said he was Vince Young was that he did not look like Vince Young.
"He was a big dude and wore a hat," Pastore said. "As soon as we all saw him we initially didn't think it was him, [because he was] way too fat."
The man in the hat was not the Eagles' new quarterback, but a guy named Stephan Pittman. Pittman is a registered sex offender in Maryland who has been impersonating Young for some time. He uses Young's name sometimes to get close to women, but mostly to ask for donations to a charity that shares Vince Young's name. He pockets the cash once he gets it.
He's good enough at this con that he was photographed at a Georgetown nightclub by the Washington Examiner on September 11th, and referred to as "Injured Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback Vince Young." This is how the real Vince Young was alerted to his existence, and the reason the real Vince Young gave an angry press conference on Monday telling people to watch out for the fake Vince Young.
Pastore and his friends did not know any of this, of course. A mixed guy/girl group of early twenty-somethings out of college, they were curious about this boisterous man in the hat. He clearly was not an NFL quarterback. But he was certainly acting like one, offering to pay for everyone's beer, charming the bartenders, and generally acting like he owned the place. He looked, at the very least, like he'd make for a good story.
In those first few minutes, as they briefly debated whether or not to stay with this man in the hat, they weighed the pros and cons.
Pro: he was buying them drinks, and seemed friendly enough.
Con: he was clearly lying about who he was.
In the end, they decided to stay. They were curious.
Full disclosure: Jon Pastore and I both went to St. Joseph's University. When I noticed that the guy quoted in all of these "fake Vince Young" stories was a "Jonathan Pastore" from Philadelphia, I wondered if this was the same Jonathan Pastore who I had gone to school with. Indeed it was. I asked if he'd talk to us about his booze-fueled night on the town with a now-notorious con artist. Indeed he would. Here is the story from that night, and the Facebook back-and-forth that led up to it.
A few days before he and his friends met fake Vince Young, Jon had come across a convincing Facebook fan page for the new Eagles quarterback. The page had many, many fans. Its wall was filled with hot college girls saying things like "thanks for hanging last night," and "hope your leg feels better, can't wait to see you again." Before seeing him in person, Jon had no reason to think this guy was a scam.
The Facebook page's moderator kept posting photos of places "Vince Young" had eaten at in Philly. Since Jon now does the marketing for that pizza chain he used to deliver for, he decided to reach out to Young, via Facebook, to see if he wanted to come in and and try some free pizza.
Surprisingly, Vince Young messaged him back. He'd be happy to show up for some free pizza, he said. And since he was new in town, did Jon know about other places that had good food? What about bars?
They began messaging back and forth about places to check out, and Young sent Jon his phone number. They talked briefly on the phone. The guy sounded just like Vince Young.
Again, no alarms were going off at this point.
"Before I saw him, I had no real reason to not believe him," Jon said. "But after I saw him in person and started to catch on, I realized his page didn't have a feature where you could 'like' it like every other athlete has."
Jon asked him if he wanted to go out to the city or Manayunk. Manayunk is a hilly town in Northwestern Philly that's become a popular nightlife spot for college kids. Young wanted to go there, "because it's all college girls that wouldn't know him."
They settled on the Bayou, a bar on Manayunk's Main Street frequented mostly by St. Joe's kids. From the jump, Jon and his five friends knew something was a bit off: there was the aforementioned heftiness of this Vince Young. And this guy had come alone. What athlete would come alone to a bar, especially when he's coming to meet a group of white college kids that he'd never met? Still, they decided to stay.
The free drinks were one reason. By the end of the night, the man in the hat had bought each of them "10 or 12 drinks each." This goes a long way with a group of 23-year-olds.
There was also the absurdity of it all. They were in the presence of a man who was very obviously not Vince Young, but who insisted he was. He talked about his "teammates." He mentioned his hamstring injury. He shelled out money like crazy. He was funny.
At one point, he showed Jon cell phone photos of college girls he had hung out with previously in Manayunk. Jon noticed he was carrying multiple cell phones, including a "burner," a pre-paid phone sometimes used by people who don't want to leave a trail.
The drinks kept coming. The new group of friends decided to move their now-seven-person operation down the street to Mad River, another bar. But before they walked out, the man in the hat signed a bill as "Vince Young" and posted it on a wall at the Bayou.
An alarming thought briefly crossed Jon's mind as they walked out onto Main Street. What if they were being led into a trap? After all, the man in the hat was lying about some pretty important things. Namely, who he was. What if masked men jumped out and mugged him and his friends at gunpoint? But no such thing happened, and they made it to the next bar without that nightmare scenario playing out.
At Mad River, the man in the hat told the bouncers that he had been in the bar previously, so he got in without having to show ID. On the way in, Jon's girlfriend asked the bouncers if they thought it was Vince Young. The bouncers laughed.
Once inside, the man in the hat started buying everyone drinks again. He tipped the bartenders well, danced with everyone, threw up the Texas Longhorns symbol (Vince Young attended Texas), and generally did everything you'd expect Vince Young to do if Vince Young had spontaneously decided one night to party with some college kids. It sounded like a fun time.
There was one weird moment, though. Towards the end of the night, one of Jon's friends asked the man in the hat if he could see his tattoos, because Vince Young is heavily tatted. The man in the hat said that was "weird," and that he'd be heading out soon. He left around 1 am.
Jon texted him about his tattoos the next day. The man in the hat said he thought his new friends were cool, but "that's weird coming from a guy." Then he wished them all "the best luck with all future endeavors," and promptly de-friended Jon and his buddies on Facebook.
And like that, he was gone.
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