Originally written on BlackSportsOnline  |  Last updated 10/19/14
As more and more information comes out you can either believe one of two things. Either Te’o came up with this on his own to cover up a bigger story or he found out he was being duped and continue to lie to the media. A student on the Notre Dame campus wrote an op-ed piece on the situation and believes it is the latter. We all saw this coming. Well, not ALL of this — but enough to make too many of us shudder. Notre Dame is not like most schools with big-time athletic programs — our student body population pales in comparison to other large schools. And what does that mean? Well, word spreads fast on Notre Dame’s campus, and many students knew a long time ago that there was something very fishy (or should I say, cat-fishy) about Manti Te’o’s relationship with ‘Lennay Kekua’. Yet, even before the Michigan State game, Manti Te’o was being questioned by his teammates. Apparently Manti had only “seen” Lennay once — but I assume “seen” was a rather loose term used for “chatted with online” (however, this is extremely complicated to understand since they were reportedly talking since 2009, according to the Te’o family). The debate among teammates wasn’t whether or not Manti actually knew this girl — it was clear that they had been in contact; no, players just didn’t think that it was fair to call Lennay Kekua Manti’s girlfriend, period (it is well-known on campus that he has had relations with other girls during his time at Notre Dame). They recognized what was going on for what it was — a terrible publicity stunt used to fuel Manti Te’o’s Heisman campaign. In fact, many of the players privately commented that they didn’t want the students to wear leis in support of Manti and wouldn’t participate themselves — they cited that the team never responded so publicly to tragic events for other players. But there was also the feeling that Manti didn’t deserve to benefit from public publicity from the death of somebody he barely knew. Manti knew that it was over-the-top — his teammates had gotten that sense a long time prior. And now he was in too deep. More and more questions were asked about this fascinating story, and he kept answering them, calling Kekua “the love of his life”, even though he was digging a deeper and deeper hole for himself. And it didn’t help that his family, and specifically his father, Brian Te’o, was also talking about the incident, or lying as it appears. While I believe Manti Te’o to have an incredibly good heart and to have gotten duped, I will also be quick to point out that he oversold all of this drama in the first place. It was heinous of him to play up a relationship as the love of his life for a girl he had never actually met — I think most people can agree that is ridiculous. And I think Notre Dame had to have some knowledge of the the whole case being significantly embellished but was on board because of the positive press and hype it brought to the university. Could it have been a massive oversight and university officials just took Manti at his word that it was his girlfriend? Absolutely, but I like to think my school’s athletic department is a little smarter than that — it has shown itself to be quite media savvy in the past. I think that Te’o, his family, and Notre Dame all knew what was going on in terms of hyperbole (but not the entire non-existence) and decided to go with it, never expecting the truth to come out. For people with common sense, this seems to be the most plausible story. It isn’t necessary the one I believe, but it is the one that makes the most sense. Te’o is scheduled to sit down and talk to ESPN today, hopefully he tells the truth, because he has already been caught up in a web of lies.
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