I wrote the other day about sometimes sports stars transcending their sport into real life. Well, this current story with Manti Te’o is probably the most bizarre sports story that I have ever heard of.
Earlier in the year the grandmother of Te’o passed away. And it was reported that a few hours after that the girlfriend of Te’o passed away as well. This story was used by Te’o as so called inspiration for playing this year and giving it a run at a Heisman Trophy winning season.
On Wednesday, the story broke that this whole girlfriend was a hoax. Supposedly it was an elaborate trick player on Te’o by some unknown person via the internet.
While I have certainly heard of people using online dating sites and misrepresenting themselves in the process, this is the first time I have heard of someone claiming to have a girlfriend thru an online process who they have never met.
I suppose it is very possible. And I suppose it is very possible that this was all an elaborate hoax player on Te’o. But it is just hard for me to fathom such a thing.
The different stories that are out there floating around really don’t clear the issue. And leave a lot of room for doubt.
A big area of doubt is the parents stating they knew the girl and had met them. Players on the team saying they never believed he had a girlfriend. I also find it hard to believe a person would call someone a girlfriend who they had never met. I could understand maybe having a close attachment as a friend, but not necessarily a girlfriend. Te’o had referenced her as a girlfriend on more than one occasion.
I also have a hard time believing Te’o is innocent because he received a call from someone claiming to be the girlfriend early in December, yet never questioned this or told anyone. The school became aware of the hoax the day after Christmas, yet when asked about it at the National Championship game Te’o was still playing the grieving boyfriend card.
I like to give the benefit of the doubt but it is hard to do in this case. Was Te’o thinking this was going to gain him sympathy votes in the Heisman race? Is he someone who just likes the added attention? Does he have other issues he may need therapy for?
Another issue is with the media. When this story was reported, why did no one think to check for a death certificate? Seems to me that would of been a first step for someone to consider doing before running with such a big story.
I tend to lean towards believing Te’o was helping perpetrate this hoax. However, whether this turns out to be an elaborate hoax perpetrated on Te’o or whether Te’o is guilty of participating in this, it’s not often sports turns out to be soap opera like. It is an interesting and bizarre story which we may never really know the true story behind.