Friday, January 18, 2013

Manti Te'o Needs to Answer Questions

By now, we've all heard the news about Manti Te'o and his fake girlfriend. It has taken Lance Armstrong's story out of the spotlight. For those who haven't heard about it, click the link and read up. For those too lazy to click and read, in short, Te'o's dead girlfriend Lennay Kekua isn't dead, nor did she ever exist in the first place.

The story has left us with more questions than it has answers. Did Te'o get tricked by someone online? If so, why the contradicting report from him that he met her on the field after a Notre Dame loss to Stanford? Did he make that story up to hide that he met her online and wanted people to think he actually had met her in person? Or did he make that story up as part of a bigger hoax which he was involved in creating? I'm leaning more towards the latter, as Te'o's father has told reporters Manti and Lennay had hung out in Hawaii together... surely Te'o wouldn't go home without being with his family, so did he lie to them to avoid them? Where did Te'o go on the days he was supposed to be out with Lennay?

I've got even more questions. If Manti was involved in the hoax, why go so far as to get his own family emotionally invested in Lennay? Of course they care for her in some way as they "know" their son cares deeply for her. Te'o's father even spoke to "Lennay" on the phone when she was released from the hospital after her fight after a car crash. Surely all of the months that Lennay was in the hospital, Manti visited her at least once?

More questions than answers.

Was Manti involved in all of this? Short of accusing Te'o of anything myself, MILLIONS of tweets have suggested Te'o did all of this to cover up him being homosexual. That thought has crossed the minds of more than just average Tweeters; athletes, journalists, and other celebrities have chimed in wondering the same. OutSports, a popular site dedicated to homosexual athletes, has wondered as much.

But then we get deeper into the search for anything that makes sense, and there have been Tweets from friends of the accused suggesting they knew exactly who was behind the Lennay Kekua Twitter account. The account has since tweeted a joke making fun of Manti's performance in Notre Dame's National Championship loss to Alabama. Did the two have a falling out if indeed Manti was in a homosexual relationship with the accused? Did Manti not have any involvement in this and was being blackmailed? One way or another, the world was fooled. If Manti was apart of this, it was very distasteful for him on many accounts. The worst of all being that he assumed he needed more than the story of his grandmother's death to help be an inspirational story. One death is bad enough, but two? On the same day? Hollywood script-writers try their hardest to write this. Did Te'o do so in poor taste? Or did the accused do so to really wrench at Te'o's heart? DeadSpin also makes note that Te'o is indeed friends with the accused, so there is something to consider there.

Te'o's official statement suggests that he was hoaxed and a victim. Notre Dame's as well. Are they both playing it off? Is it true? Te'o's future as a football player indeed needs some help after this. Making future teammates believe he had no involvement other than being victimized really helps him. But the story of him meeting her, which he told himself, then gets very suspicious. All the times he was in Hawaii with her and didn't bring her home to his family, seems all the more suspicious. The fact he never visited her in the hospital? That he never used Skype or FaceTime or any Instant Messenger to make a video call? Surely an Academic All-American Athlete was bright enough to know those options were available and that he should have doubted until he had proof. So why all the lies?

Te'o is an outstanding football player. Talent alone suggests he'll be a first-round pick. I'm not of the belief he'll fall in the draft, but I do believe that coaches, GM's, owners, and teammates will wonder whether he's honest. As an inside linebacker in the NFL, you're expected to be a leader. The QB of the defense. Generally a team captain. Can he be trusted in those roles if he was a part of creating this hoax? Can teammates trust someone so gullible who lied to cover whatever the reason may be as their leader of men in battle? These are questions all will ask. They're questions that Te'o needs to discover how to answer. He needs to do so through honesty, because dishonesty got him into this position. He needs to fess up to whatever the story may be. If he was truly hoaxed, admit he was ashamed to tell people he met someone online who he never saw and fell for something out of 1995. If he was involved in the hoax, tell people, and tell them why. If he used it to help his own publicity, admit it. If he used it to cover up being homosexual, accept that role and take that to the NFL and make your mark that way.

But the key is to be honest. Answer all of these questions. Because there are way more questions than there are answers.


  1. i read all your thoughts and man.. i have nothing to offer in the way of commentary. i'm just really befuddled by this thing. i can only agree that this entire situation is bizarre and presents more questions than answers.