Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o’s story about his romantic girlfriend and his grandmother both dying on the same day was a very tragic and inspirational story.
However, Deadspin reported yesterday that this girlfriend never existed, and therefore never died. I couldn’t believe it. I bought Te’o’s story completely and looked at it as one of the best I’ve ever seen, almost as good as Lance Armstrong’s.
Now we have a bunch of questions for Manti that need answers and a major explanation. How many times did he actually interact with this girlfriend? Why did he never visit her in the hospital, or go to her funeral after she passed away from leukemia? How do you fall in love with someone without ever seeing them or hear their voice? The list goes on and on and on and I think the entire world is still digesting this crazy story.
No matter if Te’o was actually telling the truth, or it ends up that he made up the story of his girlfriend dying for publicity reasons, he’s a fraud. When I found out that Te’o’s girlfriend died, I imagined there was this amazing relationship. I envisioned that he saw and spoke with her all the time, he visited her after her car accident, and when she was in the hospital with leukemia. I also assumed he was by her bed side when she died. Obviously this wasn’t the case. The relationship reportedly was strictly online with no face to face contact and no voice exchanges. Manti was so heartbroken when this person died, then went out and played one of the best seasons in college football history. The man missed 2 tackles the entire season before missing 7 in the BCS title game. It was an unbelievable, true, real, human story of someone facing adversity and shining through it.
I can’t help but believe that this was a publicity stunt by Te’o to get national exposure and become a Heisman candidate, which would eventually happen. Te’o may have loved this girl and had a great relationship with her, but he really made it seem like a very tragic situation when he never even went to her funeral or visited her when she was sick. I really hope that Te’o ends up being the victim of a disturbing plan and he can move forward with the rest of his career. There are other twists to the story where an Arizona Cardinals player claims to have met and spoken with this woman, and that a source close to the situation is 80% positive Te’o was involved. But either way, he created this false perception that the whole country fell for which makes him a fraud. There’s no other way around it.
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