The Cruel Punk of Manti Te’o

The news is everywhere. Notre Dame’s star linebacker Manti Te’o had a virtual girlfriend who turned out to be more virtual than actual girlfriend. She was a part of his “narrative” last year, as her tragic “death” was credited with being an inspiration for Manti’s successful season.

It was revealed today, however, that the girlfriend never existed. Watch ESPN’s coverage above for the story. You can listen to the University of Notre Dame’s explanation below. In short, they say that Manti was the victim of a hoax. Manti has released a statement saying that the hoax has been “painful and humiliating.”

Some are already questioning Manti’s side of the story (e.g., Skip Bayless). We’ll see.

5 Responses to The Cruel Punk of Manti Te’o

  1. David Thomas January 17, 2013 at 1:35 am #

    OK, I’m a Notre Dame grad, class of 1986. I’ve been proud of this season for the Irish, and I’ve been impressed with Manti T’eo’s play on the field. Frankly, I have not been too involved emotionally with his personal story, though it has been played up quite a bit in the media. I am certainly aware that the ND community as I know it (and know it pretty well) would have gone in for such a narrative BIG.

    As you note, Denny, “We’ll see.” I have hard, hard questions and significant doubts. If T’eo was involved in the hoax it reflects horribly on Notre Dame; this makes it very much in ND’s interest to back Manti as the victim, and not the perpetrator, of the hoax.

    Much more needs to come out. I don’t understand why the woman they claim perpetrated said hoax is not being fully outed. Her phone number is certainly traceable. Perhaps that will come out and someone will be forced to come clean. Who knows.

    In the meantime, I would say at least this: Manti T’eo has at the very least been misleading in his statements when he said this woman was his “girlfriend.” Now he says that references to “meeting her” meant “meeting her online and by telephone.” OK, I get that some use those terms for the e-world of social media we live in. But that’s not a girlfriend by the standards of the vast majority of people who use the term, and a reasonably intelligent kid would know that. Even if he was “punked,” he should have been more authentic in calling her a “friend” or an “online acquaintance” he had grown close to in a way that such media allows. You don’t call someone you’ve never met–not even once–your “girlfriend.” You just don’t.

    On a football note, I believe ND was destined to lose on Jan 7. But what with Kelly making secret arrangements with the Eagles a week before the game, and T’eo dealing with a university investigation of a high-profile relationship that turned out to be fake, well, these things just /may/ have distracted them and turned what should have been a 1-2 score loss into an elephant trampling. And that’s not cool.

  2. Stephen Beck January 17, 2013 at 2:31 am #

    This is definitely one of the most interesting and strange stories of the past few years. An anonymous quote from the deadspin story claimed that Tuiasosopo, who is the most likely figure to be the “fake Lennay” or at least run most of the charade because of the allegations that he was involved in getting the fake profile pictures, has been close friends for a long time with Te’o. And supposedly the imaginary Lennay character was not a new concoction that started with an online relationship to Te’o but had fake relationships before. Would news or discussion of this not gotten to Te’o?

    If Te’o really is a victim (I think it’s been suggested that Te’o verify and prove his earlier story that he sent roses to the fake Kekua family after the death, that would be a pretty solid verification that he never knew he was scammed, and an absence of flowers sent would be pretty damning evidence that he was in on it at least by that point and played along with public lies), then there’s a few issues – What’s the psyche of a high profile college athlete at a large university that resorts to online dating? Why did he go so long and not demand a meeting? Skype? After the non-car crash and non-cancer diagnosis, why doesn’t he go visit her in the hospital? It was the spring and summer, he could have taken a few days. Evidently quickly after he would have thought he had a ‘dating’ relationship, he is embarrassed in front of his friends and family about having an online-only girl and starts lying that he met her. Was there no one in his devout Mormon family or Catholic school that pushed him on dangers of this?

    If he was in on the scam at least by some point (presumably by the time of the car crash he knew this girl was a fake or he would never know), then more issues – why did he go along with this? Did he feel like he needed some sort of girlfriend cover to avoid pursuing Notre Dame girls? Was it his Mormon faith or a hidden alternate sexuality? Would “Sorry, I don’t want to date right now, just wanna focus on God and football” have been enough? Or was this all just an attention-seeking plot? That would be quite the media sob story campaign, invent a girlfriend and just as soon as your grandmother dies, send off your leukemia California girl.

    Hopefully the kid wanted attention because regardless of his NFL potential, now he’s got it.

  3. Adam Cavalier January 17, 2013 at 8:14 am #

    If that were not humiliating enough, one quick look at the ESPN message boards reveals people’s cruelty. It’s also ironic that commenters can hide behind keyboards and personas made up on the internet to ridicule him, but chastise him for falling in love with one.

  4. Daniel Fiester January 17, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

    The cruel punk of Manti Teo? Is that a subjective genitive or an objective genitive? Or perhaps a genitive of apposition?

    As more details come out, I suspect that a genitive of apposition is the most fitting description of Teo.

    • Denny Burk January 18, 2013 at 2:47 am #

      That’s funny that you should ask. I left it intentionally ambiguous!

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