Manti Te'o, star linebacker at Notre Dame and one of the most decorated college football players in history, played the game of his life against Michigan State this past September, making 12 tackles and an interception to set up a field goal that would seal the game. It was an inspired performance, one motivated by the fact that Te'o heard earlier in the day that not only had his beloved grandmother passed away, but also his girlfriend Lennay Kekua had lost her battle against Leukemia.
This is Manti Te'o, reacting to the death of his loved ones. Or something else.
I don't know when this picture was taken.
Obviously this story received huge coverage from sports journalists at ESPN and Sports Illustrated. But according to Deadspin, Lennay Kekua not only didn't die that day, but never existed at all. So when the South Bend Tribune wrote in November of 2009 that Te'o met Kekua in person and that "their stares got pleasantly tangled, then Manti Te'o extended his hand to the stranger with a warm smile and soulful eyes", they were either lied to or were accidentally reporting on a promising football player falling in love with a ghost.
And I mean, we've all been there, right fellas? You fall in love with a girl you pick up off the highway and give her a ride to the graveyard, but she leaves her sweater in your car! Then, you look her up and go to give the sweater back, maybe ask for a number, and her mother answers the door and asks if you're playing a sick joke, that her daughter's been dead for over two years!
And I'm all like "Hey it's still her sweater so how about you stop being such a b*tch about this?"
The timelines as to when exactly Kekua died in relation to the grandmother get sketchy across different outlets, and there are a number of players in the story, including Te'o's former high school friend who seems to have had access to Kekua's Twitter account and the woman whose picture was used as the public face of Kekua. I'm super excited by the mystery of it all.
Who IS Lennay Kekua? Who is involved? Who in this story is the hero and who is the villain?
With all the various players and intrigue, this story reminds me of my days spent with Lost, not only because it's so hard to tell who's lying and what everyone's motivations are, but also because there's been a split between two factions — like Jack and Locke's bickering about whether it was their destiny to crash on the Island or just a random occurrence, there are those who believe Manti Te'o is the victim of a cruel prank and those who think he's a monster.
"Maybe Manti Te'o's girlfriend is down in the HATCH, huh Jack?"
Manti Te'o issued a statement, saying he's the victim of a hoax, that he had been manipulated into feeling for a woman he discovered was not real. He writes that he feels humiliated, and goes on to say that he believed that his relationship, which was based on online interactions and telephone calls, was authentic.
Notre Dame also released a statement, saying that Manti Te'o and his family had informed his football coaches that he was "the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia".
Actually, in accordance with its Catholic views, I wouldn't be shocked to see Notre Dame encouraging its players to take up with fake girlfriends.
"Whatever happened here, I think we can all agree that the true villain is human sexuality."
So either someone is playing a huge prank on a college football player, or Manti Te'o told a story — an emotional tale of a girlfriend who loved him so much that she told him to play while she struggled and lost a battle against leukemia — that was made up to gain publicity. And until we get more information, we have to decide for ourselves which we believe. But keep in mind, Te'o played phenomenally against Michigan State the night he thought Kekua passed away. If he was in on the plan, does that mean Michigan State was in on it too? Or did Michigan State plan this all along?
Check it out — you're coming up on a big game against Notre Dame, so you start this Twitter account and start flirting with their star player. Then, the day of the game, you kill her off. Manti Te'o, who believed he was in a beautiful, loving relationship with this girl, would have his hopes dashed and be unable to play in the game. Yes, the plan is so simple — take away the man's hope, and you crush his spirit. Sound like anyone you know?
SOMEONE CHECK MICHIGAN STATE'S ENROLLMENT RECORDS.
What do you think is going on with Manti Te'o and his not-so-real girlfriend? Let me know on twitter @mikeyfromsu or in the comments below!
Check out 5 Freakiest Hauntings In the World!