So yesterday afternoon, as I was in the middle of writing my Chip Kelly rant and enraging the entire city of Philadelphia, I received the following text messages from my dad:
Dad: Te’o from ND girlfriend dying is a hoax
Dad: There’s no record of her anywhere
Me: I’m reading the story right now. This is crazy.
Dad: Hard to believe. What if he won the Heisman?
That’s how I learned that Manti Te’o, star linebacker from the University of Notre Dame, was apparently wrapped up in one of the oddest, most perplexing stories I think any of us have ever heard of.
I mean honestly, how messed up is this? Either Manti Te’o is one of the most naive and gullible individuals ever OR… he is one of the world’s all-time great narcissist.
But which is it and more importantly how should we feel about it?
For what it’s worth, despite all of my snarky tweets and enjoyment I got out of Twitter last night, I think I’m leaning towards Te’o’s side on this whole thing. I realize that now I’m setting myself up to be the naive or gullible one in all of this, but I just can’t wrap my mind around a scenario in which Manti Te’o conjured up an idea to create an imaginary girlfriend. After all, what would be the point of that?
Te’o was already considered one of the top linebackers in the country before the season even started. He was going to be up for major awards and All-American honors. Not to mention, he already had an incredibly high draft stock. Knowing that, Te’o had so much more to lose from this than he had to gain. At the end of the day no one is using sympathy votes to determine who is the best player on the field. That idea is backed up by the fact that Te’o didn’t win the Heisman even though a case can be made that he was far more instrumental in Notre Dame’s perfect season than Johnny Manziel was in Texas A&M’s resurgence.
I just have a hard time believing he was in on this, I really do. I also can’t believe how far some people are taking this. Ok, the jokes were funny, if not hilarious at first when the news broke, BUT as this lines of this story become less black and white and more convoluted the things have gone from being funny to just downright mean-spirited. If Te’o was in on the hoax, then by all means have at it. It’s what he deserves.
However, if Te’o wasn’t in on this and was just as much a victim of his own naivety as the rest of us, then the things people are saying account to nothing more than bullying on the grandest of scales. There’s no doubt that Te’o is ashamed and humiliated by what has happened. How could he not be. If he wants to throw gasoline on the raging inferno that is probably his barely out of his teenage years emotions, all Te’o has to do is search his name on Twitter. If that doesn’t send him spiraling into some type of deep dark depression then he’s a better man than I am.
What if he is telling the truth and all of us and our attempts to be “the funny guy on the internet” pushes him off the edge because it’s nothing more than bullying? He wouldn’t be the first person to ever be duped by a spouse or significant other. Just turn on Lifetime or Oxygen. Those two channels are full of tv shows and movies depicting people who were made to look a fool by someone they thought they knew. This story has the potential to be so much worse than it already is. Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that point.
So with that said, it’s time for Manti Te’o to man up and show us the fortitude that we believed made him such a great football player when this supposed tragedy occurred and answer some questions. He needs to. He has to. It’s the only way Te’o can survive this with any sort of reputation in tact. The cover up is always worse than the original crime. Just come out and tell the truth, whatever it might be, and accept the ramifications.
All that’s left to really say about this is… Stay tuned.