By: Dan Leach
When I first heard the news that Manti Te’o supposed girlfriend not only never died, but never even existed I was as shocked as you were. This was a player who was transcendent all season long and easily was one of the most important reasons Notre Dame rose from the ashes and made it to the national title game. I remember all the stories coming out right before the Notre Dame V Michigan State game (sorry Sparty fans you can’t blame the loss on this), about the tragic death of Te’o’s girlfriend from cancer, which he had told the media happened within hours of his grandmother dying.
It was a sad and tragic story and became part of the legend that was Te’o during 2012 as he played through this and it seemed to not only fire up Te’o, but the entire Irish football team, as well. Late Wednesday night in what could only be called absurdly surreal, the supposed dead girlfriend Tweeted. I might not be the smartest guy in the world, but I do know that if you’re dead it is pretty impossible to Tweet, unless the Ghost Whisperer is holding something back from us.
The university has stood behind Te’o and said that one of the most trusting people they have ever known will never be able to trust again. They made it seem like he had no part in this and was completely duped. Well that could prove true and Te’o reportedly notified the University of this in late December before the National Title game was played. What is more troubling to me is that if it comes out that Te’o might have been misled at some point and might have been part of an elaborate hoax, but knew much earlier then when he came forward, it will cut to the core of a player who was considered one of the more standup and honest athletes in recent college football history.
Many have compared this story to the ground breaking documentary “Catfish,” which explored a man who was completely tricked into believing a women he met online, was someone who she ended up not being at all. This seems to be getting more and more common in this online age and it would be understandable if not embarrassing if this is actually what happen to Te’o. But if it is found out that he knew right away and just kept the story going because he was too concerned that it would negatively affect and embarrass him, the team, or the university, then it is another level of insanity all together.
I always try to be positive, a glass half-full-type-of-guy, and give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but if this was all a lie and one of the better defensive college football players in recent years knew it all along and just kept it going, it could honestly be a career killer. Everyone deserves a second chance, just ask Lance Armstrong, but how could an NFL team draft Te’o, or an NFL teammate ever be able to trust him, if it is learned that he literally kept one of the biggest lies possible going for months after he knew it was all a hoax. Here is hoping that is not the case and that Te’o was just a pawn in an elaborate rouse that duped so many. Because if he was complicit this would just be yet another scary thought about where society is going in the digital age and how things that used to be sacred seem to going up in flames as easily as it is to click a mouse.