We’ve all had our fun with the Manti Te’o story. If you’re new to this, Te’o is a star linebacker for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, finished second in the Heisman Trophy race, and is a projected first round pick in the next NFL Draft. This season, as Notre Dame was making a run towards being the #1 ranked college football team in the country, stories began to run about the team in major publications, including one about Te’o fighting through tragedy after learning about the death of his grandmother and his girlfriend within the span of six hours, only to have a great game against then tenth-ranked Michigan State, on the road, giving the Fighting Irish their best start in ten years.
Except that his girlfriend didn’t exist. (His grandmother did, though, and she did die – that’s not crap.) Deadspin.com broke the story yesterday, sending millions scrambling to think of some clever reference to girlfriends in Canada, George Glass, or something else I don’t feel like finding a link to. Notre Dame says that Te’o been duped by someone on the Internet, while Deadspin implies Te’o may have been part of the ruse, noting a connection between Te’o and the person believed to be behind Te’o’s fake dead girlfriend’s Twitter account.
What we’re left with now is trying to sort everything out. If Te’o was in fact duped, how does that happen in 2012? Supposedly in a relationship for three years, how does Te’o not ever see his girlfriend in person? Notre Dame plays Stanford every season, and played there twice – 2009 and 2011 – and the ’09 game was when they supposedly met. No Skype? No webcam? No meeting in 2011? She couldn’t have come to the USC game in 2010? Is Te’o that naive? Was he being used for money?
Or, if Te’o was part of it, why would he do it? Was it an attempt for more media attention in his senior season to improve draft position? Was it something cooked up by Notre Dame PR to give their highest profile player some more exposure and a Heisman run in a weak field?
All of these seem a bit dubious. A college athlete isn’t exactly the best target for money, boosters be damned. A pro athlete you could see, but college? Not so much. And as for PR, it would have been just as easy to just push the “dead grandmother” story (which was legit) as it would have been to push the dual deaths. Tragic is tragic, and adding an additional death to one that actually happened seems like (pardon the wording) overkill.
So I’ve been going over “what if” scenarios in my head, and one keeps sticking over and over, and would make all the jokes all the more empty and kind of turn the accusing finger on society a bit.
What if Manti Te’o is gay? Continue reading Defending Manti Te’o… Sort Of