Thursday, January 17, 2013

Manti Te'o And His Imaginary (Dead) Girlfriend.

I can't say I'm the most frequent viewer, but I'm well aware of MTV's runaway hit reality series Catfish. For those unaware, the show is about people who start relationships and fall deeply in love with people online whom they've never actually met in person. If you're at a loss for understanding how such a thing can actually happen (penetentiary pen pal marriages notwithstanding), the show tries to unite the couples offline, often to disastrous result.

While I like the show, I think, like most reality shows, a great deal of it is scripted. A somewhat scripted, "real life Catfish" is playing out in the media, with against the backdrop of big money college football.
Notre Dame's athletic director and the star of its near-championship football team said the widely-reported death of the star's girlfriend from leukemia during the 2012 football season was apparently a hoax, and the player said he was duped by it as well.

Manti Te'o, who led the Fighting Irish to the BCS championship game this year and finished second for the Heisman Trophy, said in a statement today that he fell in love with a girl online last year who turned out not to be real.

The university's athletic director, Jack Swarbrick, said it has been investigating the "cruel hoax" since Te'o approached officials in late December to say he believed he had been tricked.

Private investigators hired by the university subsequently monitored online chatter by the alleged perpetrators, Swarbrick said, adding that he was shocked by the "casual cruelty" it revealed.

Te'o said during the season that his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, died of leukemia in September on the same day Te'o's grandmother died, triggering an outpouring of support for Te'o at Notre Dame and in the media.

"While my grandma passed away and you take, you know, the love of my life [Kekua]. The last thing she said to me was, 'I love you,'" Te'o said at the time, noting that he had talked to Kekua on the phone and by text message until her death.

Now, responding to a story first reported by the sports website Deadspin, Te'o has acknowledged that Kekua never existed. The website reported today that there were no records of a woman named Lennay Kekua anywhere.

Te'o denied that he was in on the hoax.
Having read the full story on Deadspin (I was bored), it's fairly clear what happened here. Te'o and a friend seem to have conspired to make up a sympathetic story that raised his national profile and probably (along with his stellar play on the field) helped him to his Heisman nomination. Amurricah loves sports redemption stories, and death pRon mixed with BCS championship level football is an elixir the mainstream media couldn't resist. It's fairly amazing how flimsy Te'o's story seems after the fact.

He allegedly carried out this ruse over the course of 3 years, which is beyond puzzling. That nobody bothered to check death records, or call Stanford, or bother using common sense when reporting this is even more puzzling.

I'm not sure what's worse: lying on your d***, or inventing a fake girlfriend, then saying she died? Why Te'o felt the need to concoct such an easily debunkable story is beyond me. It'll be interesting to see what NFL GM's think. This guy was (is?) a guaranteed 1st round draft pick.

Now? His pro football career might be just as dead imaginary as his girlfriend. Was.

Question: Does this young man have some serious psychological issues? Have you ever been "Catfished" online, only to meet the person on the other end and have them look nothing like their profile picture?!?

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