READING THE story, I still don’t believe it. I bet you won’t either. It’s the most bizarre series of events to take up this amount of oxygen since Casey Anthony, but at least there was a real live tragedy at the center of that story. But because of the furor around Manti Te’o, as well as the college football, which is a huge money maker and beloved well beyond pro football these days, this story is creating a huge furor.
Jezebel’s assessment will resonate with many:
Notre Dame is notorious for covering up sexual assault allegations involving its football players, but the school declared star linebacker Manti Te’o a “victim” within mere hours after the news broke that his saintlike dead girlfriend never actually existed. Why is Notre Dame in such a rush to assert Te’o's victimhood while the investigation is still proceeding? Easy: because it strengthens the hero narrative the school relies on for profit and glory. Acknowledging the real victims of jock culture only hurts that narrative.
Did Te’o make up Lennay Kekua, his fake girlfriend who, he told multiple reporters, died of cancer on the same day his grandmother passed away and hours before he led his team to an epic (and selfless) victory against Michigan State last fall, or did he fall for an outlandishly cruel and convoluted internet hoax? His university claims the latter, and says Te’o is an even more inspirational hero for grappling with the soul-crushing trauma of realizing the deceased love of your life was never actually alive.
Who knew jocks were this stupid when it came to The Internets?
The statement from Manti Te’o:
This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her. To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating. It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother’s death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life. I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been. In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was. Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I’m looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft.