Last week as I was watching the national title game, I was beginning to wonder if Manti Te’o even existed, considering the way that the Alabama offense ran the ball at will with Lacy and Yeldon, but now our focus is shifted, considerably. With the feeding frenzy ensuing from the girlfriend hoax and lengthy Deadspin article that surfaced today (1-16), I still don’t fully understand what is going on, but let’s give it a shot anyway….I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist. I am just posing serious questions I have concerning the material that has been presented thus far by sports journalists and popular media. Whatever is going on, this is an incredibly bizarre turn of events. I didn’t think the elite tier of college football this postseason could have more bizarre moments, considering Johnny Football’s idiotic and careless use of social media and Musberger’s comical infatuation with A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend (who I am pretty sure is real). Jokes aside, here are some thoughts:
**1. **The Two Options for Te’o
As much as I respected Te’o’s play these past few years at Notre Dame, his remaining options for his image are grim. If this indeed was a true hoax, then I am sorry to say that Te’o is completely incompetent. The guy seems with it, and is a successful/savvy football player at a prestigious university in Notre Dame. If you told me that the not-so-bright, dumb jock linebacker at your high school fell for this hoax, I might believe you. But Te’o seems fairly competent to me at least. He doesn’t seem like a dumb jock. Our other option, of course, is much worse. If Te’o somehow knew about this hoax, then this is major damage to his character and public image. So he is either labeled (I can leave you to be the judge to which is fitting or fair, or if either of them are!) extraordinarily naïve or a twisted individual. I am praying for the former.
**2. **Matt Masifilo’s tweet
Earlier today, former Stanford football player Matt Masifilo tweeted concerning the matter:
“Got to believe Te’o was the victim here. He would always ask us if we knew his mystery girl after we’d “play them….”
Not to be too judgmental, but really? You’re telling me that Te’o eventually got into a relationship that he called “the love of his life” (3:50 in this interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QF21-7PdqO8) yet asked players from another team repeatedly if they even KNEW his to-be girlfriend? This does not seem logically coherent to me in the least bit. But then again, if Te’o is an “innocent” victim due to his naiveté here, I guess it doesn’t have to make sense to me, does it? In order for this to be a hoax against Te’o, a remarkable amount of naiveté is required on his part…
In this day and age, tons of people, especially young people, use skype/webcams for communication. ESPECIALLY couples in long distance relationships. Are you telling me that neither Te’o nor his girlfriend had access to a webcam or knew about Skype? Did Te’o just receive pictures of (what seems to be a somewhat random woman from Torrance, CA) and talk on the phone to a girl and think it was legit? I just don’t get it. If this was a true hoax, you have to think at some point Te’o would have asked this girl to have a conversation over webcam.
**4. **Te’o Claimed to have met Lennay Kekua in Person
Don’t jump the gun too fast here. Just because Te’o said he met the girl doesn’t make him “in on it”, but it is certainly an added question to the chaos. Perhaps Te’o said he had met her in person out of saving himself embarrassment over the fact that his relationship was a purely digital one? Even with the growing popularity of online dating and such, there certainly is still a stigma towards online relationships, especially for a Heisman contender…
All in all, I really hope Te’o is just naïve and the victim of a tasteless hoax by some very bored individuals that need to get a life. Again, the questions I have above are not to convince readers to think Te’o was behind this hoax or a pure victim, but rather just raise awareness to the specific questions that I (among many others) have concerning these events, which will hopefully be addressed in the days to come. There is one absolute truth to take away from this developing story, however: question everything. In the day and age that we live with the rapidity and veracity of the internet, so many opinions can spring up at an instant. Cynicism is not always appropriate, but sometimes it can certainly serve you well.