Notre Dame Football Star Manti Te'o - Hoax Victim?
The startling revelation hit the media last night that award-winning Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o may have been suckering the Notre Dame family and Americans who have followed his inspirational rise to glory -- when he claimed earlier in the season to have fallen in love with and then tragically lost his girlfriend, a supposed Stanford student, to leukemia, at the same time that his grandmother died.
This girlfriend, it has come to light, never existed. A fictitious girlfriend whose fictional death shocked and grieved Notre Dame students, alumni, and fans so much that they swung leis around their heads at the football stadium to show their sympathetic support for the brave Hawaiian-born, Mormon star linebacker whose heart had, they thought (and may have), been broken twice in one day.
A detailed report by Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey at Deadspin lays out the strange, bizarre and quite shocking story of the hoax and how the sports media, the media in general, Notre Dame fans, football fans, and even those with just a passing interest in college football bought the hoax hook, line and sinker.
At this writing, wagons are circling to defend Manti Te'o, especially those associated with his football career at Notre Dame. But given everything that has been reported about Te'o and the mythical girlfriend, including his first face-to-face meeting (not an online meeting) with her at Stanford in November of 2009 (more than 3 years ago), one must ask: if the report wasn't true at the time it was released to the media, where was Manti Te'o's denial about it or vocal attempts to correct misleading information after it was reported?
What the repercussions of this will be on Mr. Te'o's career or his status at Notre Dame (I would imagine that a few of the Holy Cross fathers may be a tad upset) remain to be seen, but the football star's most recent public statement on the matter serves up more questions than answers, as he now claims to bethe victim of, and not a participant in, an elaborate hoax.
So very, very sad. In the end, the young man may need some help or a comeuppance.
Addendum: Manti Te'o will speak at a press conference tomorrow. The most obvious question will be who the source was of the very detailed account of the first face-to-face meeting with the fictional Lennay Kekua and Manti at the 2009 Stanford / Notre Dame game in Palo Alto; and why his father is quoted as saying that the two later met in Hawai'i and "became a couple".
NOTE: In the interest of fairness and an attempt to be accurate as information has been coming out, I've been editing this posting repeatedly.