“The Deadspin story, roughly, is that Te’o and his friend, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, set up a Twitter account for Te’o’s made-up girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, complete with photos of some woman. Why would someone make up a dying girlfriend? For attention, sympathy, Heisman votes, or who knows what?”
Greg Couch, writer, ESPN.com
GH: That is the Twitter-length version of what is now the most bizarre sports/love story of very possibly all time. The entire media has now been turned upside down. Sports Illustrated, ESPN, network news organizations and the scruples of newspapers have been reduced to looking like amateur fools. A rogue website like DeadSpin.com that “real” journalists have viewed as beneath their craft, is now the more respected source for facts.
“It never felt like a chance meeting, although it probably appeared that way from the outside looking in. Their stares got pleasantly tangled, then Manti Te’o extended his hand to the stranger with a warm smile and soulful eyes. They could have just as easily brushed past each other and into separate sunsets. Te’o had plenty to preoccupy himself that November weekend in Palo Alto, Calif., back in 2009. … Lennay Kekua was a Stanford student and Cardinal football fan when the two exchanged glances, handshakes and phone numbers that fateful weekend three seasons ago.”
Eric Hansen, writer, on a feature story on Te’o, describing his first meeting with his fake girlfriend, published October 12, 2012 in the South Bend Tribune
GH: The South Bend Tribune has removed this story from their website but a cached version of the first page exists in the link above. Did the newspaper also run around South Bend ripping up the pulp copies from October 12th? Is it the media’s thought that if we delete it, we can defeat it? Or at least ignore it?
“Was off the grid last night, but Deadspin deserves tremendous praise for the Te’o story. Great reporting.”
Peter King, @SI_PeterKing, Twitter
GH: Props to PK. This is a major admission for King, especially since SI was one of the more visible members of the media to be duped by the Te’o tale.
“Hearing that Joe Posnanski has agreed to write Manti Te’o biography.”
Jason Whitlock, @WhitlockJason, Twitter
“Every single night for the past four months.”
Manti Te’o, on his four-hour nightly phone conversations with his dying non-existent girlfriend, ESPN Radio
GH: What hoaxer has the stamina, desire or simply time to engage in a nightly four-hour phone conversation with a fake boyfriend? Preposterous.
“The love of my life.”
Manti Te’o, tearfully discussing his “girlfriend” after her “death,” ESPN
GH: He “met” her in 2009. She died in three years later. Somehow they never touched each other. But she was the love of his life?
“20 plus years in the business and this is one of the strangest stories I’ve ever come across.”
Jim Rome, @jimrome, Twitter
“Obviously, going through what I’ve gone through, with my girlfriend passing away from cancer, that whole thing hit home for me.”
Manti Te’o, ESPN
“As if the media didn’t look foolish enough not reporting the ‘hoax,’ now they are going w the Te’o ‘victim’ story.”
Carol Roth, @caroljsroth, Twitter
GH: I was flabbergasted that Notre Dame so quickly called a news conference Wednesday evening to have their athletic director stand in front of the nation to defend Te’o as a victim. But I should not have been. Religious institutions like the Catholic Church are big on pretending. Experts at it, really.
“UNREAL that ND knew about the “hoax” since the 26th of December and allowed the fairy tale to be told straight through Bowl.”
LeslieAnne Wade, @LeslieAnneWade, Twitter
“To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.”
Manti Te’o, ESPN
GH: Amazing. That is exactly how many of us felt when we heard how Te’o had duped us into believing the inspirational story of his “girlfriend” died of cancer.
“Manti Te’o on 12/8, 2 days after hoaxers call again: ‘I don’t like cancer at all. I lost both my grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer.’ ”
Brian Hamilton, @ChiTribHamilton, Twitter
GH: This is two days AFTER Te’o said he was made aware that this was all of hoax.
“Is Te’o gay and hiding that fact with a fake GF? Actually makes more sense than anything else tonight.”
Clay Travis, writer, OutKicktheCoverage.com
GH: Travis’ column on Te’o’s tangled story is a must read. My first thought after reading the DeadSpin story on Wednesday was that the best explanation for a handsome Notre Dame football player to invent a nonexistent girlfriend is that he is trying to hide the fact he is gay. It is not only the most plausible explanation; it is also the one that I believe would allow Te’o to somewhat save face in the public’s eye. As a gay football player, many would understand why he went to such lengths to deceive. The onus of wrong would then be switched to football’s inability to accept gay men in the game.
Mike Greenberg, ESPN Radio
“A `catfish’ is a person who creates fake profiles online and pretends to be someone they are not by using someone else’s pictures and information. These `catfish’ use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, usually with the intention of getting other people or a person to fall in love with them.”
GH: I laughed when 610’s Josh Vernier scoffed at his producer, Mike Welch, using the term “catfish” to describe the Te’o explanation. Vernier told him to keep that stuff for Danny Parkins’ and Carrington Harrison’s show. The world moves fast now where vocabulary is concerned. Maybe faster than ever before. I understand Jack Harry not knowing about the Catfish documentary or the Catfish TV show. But 610 Sports is supposed to be the hip sports talk station. Vernier too often sounds like somebody who is likely to break his hip.
“A positive to the Manti story is it turns out a girl didn’t die of cancer. I credit Lance Armstrong.”
Dan Wetzel, @DanWetzel, Twitter
“Oprah Winfrey is somewhere throwing up in a trashcan today saying, ‘Oh my god! I paid how much for that interview and nobody cares!’”
Mark Packer, morning host on College Sports Nation, Sirius XM 91
GH: A great point was made by the producer/call screener on 610’s The Big Show. (He is the same guy who Vernier chastised for bringing up Catfish.) He mentioned Oprah’s interview with Armstrong and how foolish she was to think that in 2013 she could delay the broadcast of the interview for days without it starting to age. In today’s Twitter/online news cycle of minutes not days, the next story is always threatening to steal you story’s thunder. Oprah now has a two-day interview that almost no one cares to discuss. Fake dead girlfriends of Notre Dame heroes will do that.
“I want Oprah to interview Te’o's girlfriend.”
Rob Wagner, @The_Rob_Wagner, Twitter
“No. No. We’ve seen far worse things with other players that at the end of the day it did not affect their draft status.”
Brian Billick, when asked if this bizarre Manti Te’o story will negatively affect his draft status, ESPN Radio
GH: I thought Mike Vick was done after he was caught killing dogs. If Vick can survive a jail sentence for killing pets, Te’o will probably survive this nutty feast of lies. But he only has three months to improve his resume for the draft. Right now I would just write “Crazy Dumbass MF” across his chart.
GregHall24@yahoo.com and Twitter / greghall24