A hoax, or a scandal? Is it a prank that went terribly wrong, or is it a player looking to boost up his draft stock? Could this be a player reaching out for sympathy after having
a terrible Bowl Championship Series (BCS) performance? These are the questions being asked about Manti Te’o’s situation.
The story gets stranger with every new article coming out. First, it was that he was a victim of a real life CatFish situation. He was in a relationship with a female by the name of Lennay Kekua for some time, but this relationship was not your typical boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. Te’o and Kekua were in a long distance relationship where they would call, Skype and write each other. On Sept. 12, 2012, Te’o found out that Annette Santiago, his 72 year old grandmother, had passed away; six hours after that, he found out that Kekua lost the battle against leukemia.
Now, I know people have tragic events in their lives, but events happening in this manner and in this order, around the same time Notre Dame had to face Michigan State
on the 15th, are questionable. Te’o believed that his girlfriend of a few months passed away and constantly kept this in his mind until he finally went public with the situation.
At this time, the media and people around him in the Notre Dame area were showing sympathy for Te’o. In my mind, this was the result that he was looking for: He needed people to show some kind of sympathy so that he could be the first defensive player to win the Heisman trophy.
Prior to the BCS game on Jan. 3rd, he was asked about his girlfriend again; he never said anything about her, but he did talk about his team being there for him.
“This team is very special to me, and the guys on it have always been there for me, through the good times and the bad times,” Te’o said. “I rarely have a quiet time to myself because I always have somebody calling me, asking, ‘Do you want to go to the movies?’ Coach is always calling me, asking me, ‘Are you OK? Do you need anything?’”
To me, this interview exposed Te’o because they asked about his girlfriend, not how his team is treating him as a result of her death. After this interview, I was skeptical of the whole story that Te’o was presenting. Then, the story took a left turn.
A man by the name of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo made Lennay Kekua up, and his cousin, Tino Tuiasosopo, was the voice of Lennay Kekua. The spin to this story is that a friend of Ronaiah said that he is about 85 percent sure that Te’o knew that Lennay Kekua was not real, and used this for publicity.
Deadspin has been doing some research on this, and found out that Te’o and Tuiasosopo have been in contact via Twitter, sending each other friendly messages and tweets. Te’o’s story, to me, is fake at this point. But there’s more! A Polynesian football player by the name of Reagan Mauia, fullback for the Arizona Cardinals, came out and said that he met Lennay Kekua in person while doing charity work in American Samoa in June 2011.
“This was before her and Manti. I don’t think Manti was even in the picture, but she and I became good friends,” Mauia said on Wednesday evening. “We would talk off and on, just a checking up on each other kind of thing. I am close to her family. When she was going through the loss of her father, I was – I offered a comforting shoulder and just someone to bounce her emotions off of. That was just from meeting her in Samoa.”
Mauia also talked about her physique: “She was tall, [with a] volleyball-type of physique. She was athletic, tall, and beautiful. [She had] long hair, and was Polynesian; she looked like a model… “At this point, Te’o, in my mind, set this up because he did not win the Heisman and he had a terrible performance in the BCS championship game. To me, it seems like he was looking for sympathy, but you can be the judge.
In more recent news, my prediction was right. There are reports that Te’o made this hoax up. Te’o knew that his girlfriend was dead but kept the story going. Sources close to him sent out his AT&T call log out to the reporters; he logged in more than 1,000 calls, more than 500 hours to one 661 area code in a four month span. Of these calls, 110 of them were more than 60 minutes in length. This story is still unfolding and I will stay on top of it to bring you the exclusive news on Te’o and his situation.
Filed Under: Opinion