By now you’ve heard the story which dominated sports headlines: Notre Dame inside linebacker and Heisman runner-up (not to mention winner of numerous defensive player of the year awards) Manti Te’o had a girlfriend who died during the season. And today we learned that she never even existed at all. It was all just a hoax. The University stands behind Te’o. Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick has hitched his wagons to Te’o. So, are we to believe that an honors student who graduated early from ND was naive enough to fall for this? And too macho to admit that he “met” his “girlfriend” online? And this explains why he played so poorly in the national championship game?
Or was he in on the fix- cruelly and twisted as he manipulated people’s emotions to gather sympathy and publicity to increase his profile and bolster his future earnings potential? Isn’t Lance Armstrong glad this came up today to take some heat off him. What we do know is that both ND and Te’o knew of this fraud weeks ago and didn’t reveal it. Deadspin had to break the story. There are balls of lies all over this charade. And perhaps we’ll never really know the truth.
Here’s Te’o's response:
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.
The day of the National Championship game, when you guys had knowledge of this, there was a pregame special on the news morning show about his story. Did you guys know they were planning on doing that? Did you do anything to try to talk them out of that? Or how did you handle that situation?
JACK SWARBRICK: Where did it air?
Q. I think it was a CBS morning show.
JACK SWARBRICK: I’m not familiar with it. So I guess the quick answer is, since I didn’t know it, we didn’t ?? we were very conscious of the fact that we didn’t know what we didn’t know. And so we recognized the challenges of that. If Manti got a question in a media session about that, how do you respond to that? We recognized the challenge of that, and we weighed those difficulties against the ?? on the other hand, these other issues that affecting timing.
I’ll say one thing. When the investigation concluded and when we got the first report from the investigators, the one thing we were certain of was that this was coming out. There was too much online chatter about it. There was not an intention, a belief, anything that this story would not get told. It was clear it would. We had hoped the first person to tell it was going to be Manti, and, again, the expectation was it was going to happen next week.
He didn’t get that opportunity without someone else having told the story, but he’ll at least have an opportunity to talk about it in the future.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Chicago Tribune.com, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
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