Thursday, January 17, 2013

Say It Ain't So, Te'o

To think, two days ago I was considering how to write a piece on Michigan basketball...hah! Thank you touchdown Jesus. Well unless you live under a rock, by now you've heard of Manti Te'o's amazing story. When I talked about Te'o and the Heisman last month, I called Manti "the best story in college football." That's still true, depending on your definition of "best." The only problem is now the story is fiction, instead of non-fiction. Oh well. It joins a long list of things that are simply too good to be true. On my personal list, I include the double cheeseburger on the dollar menu (yes, the second slice of cheese matters, forget the McDouble), the NHL on ESPN, and Santa Claus. To end this first paragraph, I go to a movie about Santa Claus (sort of), with my own little twist: the best way to create American tears is lying LOUD for all to hear.

Manti Te'o is at the center of a scandal, regarding the existence of his late girlfriend photo credit:

Whether you believe Te'o or not, and judging by the reaction, you don't, he's at fault. He's at fault for a lot of different reasons. Now my thoughts on the topic are this: he is a liar. He's ignorant, and he loses a lot of credibility as a person in my opinion. Harsh, but true. Now Manti has said that he was the victim of an internet hoax, seemingly brought on by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. When I hear that name, I think of Marques Tuiasosopo, not because of his career, but because he played in the Rose Bowl against Drew Brees and Purdue, the game where I saw the best sign aired on television: on ABC, it said Hey Pasadena, A Brees is Coming. Awesome. Back to the story though. So Tuiasosopo and Te'o are apparently friends, with the former duping the latter, as well as the American public, in an effort

It just doesn't make any sense. Watergate makes more sense than this story. So here is where my only grain of doubt about Te'o lying can be found. The only way I see him telling the truth is because I don't know why on earth Te'o would do this. Perhaps he was looking for sympathy. The problem is that he would have gotten his sympathy with the loss of his grandmother. Perhaps he really is just flat out stupid. Perhaps he actually believed that someone he never met, never even saw, could be real. Forget real, he called her the love of his life. The love of his life. Twenty-two year olds often make mistakes because of ignorance, stupidity, and embarrassment. I know because I am a twenty-two year old. But as the veteran of a few failed relationships, even I can tell you she's not your girlfriend if you've never met her.

A great line in The Dark Knight Rises is when Commissioner Gordon tells John Blake, "You're a detective now son. You're not allowed to believe in coincidence anymore." Taking that rationale, I don't believe Te'o at all when he says he is the victim. I don't see this as a coincidence that Te'o and Tuiasosopo happen to be friends, and Te'o happened to be out of the loop on this whole story. You can say he didn't lie at all, but he thanked his girlfriend's family after beating Michigan State. So if you are naive enough to believe that Te'o was indeed hoaxed, he at least lied about her family, because...well, because she does not freaking exist.

I'm going to hold off on evaluating Te'o until he actually comes out and speaks. Waiting is not doing you any favors, Manti. It's making all of us think you are creating a story. If you are telling the truth, then what the hell are you waiting for??? Let's hear it! I love the people who say they don't care about this story. How can you not care about this story? This is iconic. I'm 99% positive this will never happen again. If you don't have an opinion on this story, reevaluate your opinions (again, assuming you are a sports fan).

Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick addresses the media yesterday concerning Manti Te'o photo credit:

Whether Te'o speaks, and regardless of what he says, a lot of focus will now shift to where Te'o may fall in the NFL Draft. There's been a lot of talk about this topic. To me, it's an organizational decision on whether or not to draft Te'o. Like my friends Jeff Riger and Eric Thomas stated, if you think Tim Tebow gets attention, wait until the pre-prodigal son makes his way to the NFL. If I'm a GM in the NFL and I'm sitting pretty in the fourth round, having addressed my needs (and not simply taken the best player available), I give Te'o a look. The difference between Tebow and Te'o is that Manti is actually good. Ten days ago, we were talking about him as a top ten pick. Any thought of even a first round pick is now likely gone. It's a giant distraction. Not to mention, do you want to bring in someone who you believe to be a liar? I wouldn't. But in the fourth round, maybe. I see Te'o going to a team like New England or Baltimore. He has to go to a team where distractions are a non-issue. He needs a team with a coach who simply does not respond to dumb questions. And he needs leaders on the defense who will take him under his wing and show him how to keep his mouth shut.

It is possible Te'o is telling the truth. It is highly unlikely, but possible. I don't think so, but that doesn't mean he's lying. In any event, Te'o is at fault. Life is a learning experience, and Manti is going to learn a valuable lesson, either way. He's either going to learn that surprisingly, despite what everyone says, if it's on the internet it may not be true (as I assume that this story is true, having read it on the internet). Or, he's going to learn that you can only lie for so long. Either way, Notre Dame's golden boy just got a big red slash on that helmet, and it isn't from an Alabama player. Still a great story know you've been talking about it.


  1. Legit question we may never know: What if this happened at, say, UTEP?

  2. If it happened at UTEP with a Heisman finalist who led his team to the national championship game, I think you'd see a similar result. While I disagree with Notre Dame's decision to come out and defend Te'o instead of just giving the generic "we are looking into it" response, this is about the player not the school. There may be some fault on the university's part, but more on Te'o. A player with that story at any school is going to get big time national attention IMO. For example, if this happened to Jimmer at BYU, I think the attention would be similar. Now if it were UTEP had some bad player who had this happen, it may not be a big deal. But this is a story because of who Te'o is, and everything he embraced about his situation.

  3. To address your paragraph about the uninterested sports fan, of which I think I might know who you are talking about, I am making this account. Here's a few fun facts about this entire situation that no one talks about:

    1.) Manti Te'o didn't rob a bank. He didn't get arrested for marijuana or drunk driving. He didn't even get a parking ticket. In fact, having an online girlfriend is perfectly legal. If the worst is true, and he actually did dupe the entire media for the interest-story-at-all-costs insatiable monster that it is, he still did nothing illegal! If your feelings were hurt because you were rooting for him harder than he deserved, I suggest a tissue.
    2.) Manti Te'o didn't cheat at football. Shockingly enough, having an online relationship doesn't even affect the way you play football. Now, do NFL coaches care more about game film, combine performance, improving their defenses and winning more games, or coddling the butt hurt public? I'm going to go with the former, mainly because it generates more fans than the latter subtracts.
    3.) The only thing that really can be affected in this scenario is Teo's marketing value. Truthfully, in today's sports world that is dominated by more Dwight Howard's than Craig Biggio's (alluding to your earlier post, which I very much enjoyed), I wouldn't mind a player being kept humble with less sponsorship deals.

    Above all, my indifference to this situation is mainly due my disgust at those sprinting to their facebook's and twitter's to throw the first of many stones. In actuality, they are either beating up Te'o for being an unaware idiot who got pwned in front of a national audience, or they are upset at the realization that they believe everything they hear. The question is, do you want to talk about sports, or a MTV's Catfish The TV Show?

  4. People do not talk about those things because they are completely irrelevant to the story. He's not on trial for a crime...rather, his character is on trial, and that's where my greatest issue resides. Manti Te'o is in the sports world. He actually dominates the sports world right now. So, regardless of how immature the story may seem, it still is just that: a story, and a story that warrants comments, which I provide. And despite your attempt to trigger some sort of journalistic emotion, I remain guiltles.