I’m not entirely sure what the hell is going on. Yesterday I thought I had a relatively decent, surface-level, idea of who Manti Te’o was. I think a lot of sports maniacs like myself did. Hell, I think a lot of casual sports fans recognized his name, his skill on the football field, and his “story.” Manti’s story, up until yesterday, was inspirational. It was rare. It was about an exceptionally skilled player overcoming exceptional off the field adversity and somehow using the heat of his own anguish to forge himself into something bigger than the game.
Turns out, we didn’t know jack.
(*Author’s note: this feeling isn’t particularly new to me, but some of you may be unaccustomed to realizing that, really, we’re all kind of schmucks.)
For those of you living in a Ted Kaczynski-style shack or dwelling in a secret underground bunker, I’ll catch you up briefly. This fall, senior Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was all over the news. You see, he was playing really well and his “story” had just become something of an inspirational tale of fighting through different layers of personal grief. We were told that Te’o had lost both his Grandmother and his girlfriend within the span of 6 hours. They had both died of diseases — his girlfriend’s, we learned, was leukemia — and, shortly thereafter, he had emerged onto the field to play a heart-wrenchingly emotional game that captivated the country.
The Fighting Irish won in an upset that night and, after riding the emotion and physicality of their star linebacker (*Author’s note: and catching a few insanely lucky breaks) they ended up playing in the BCS National Title Game.
Notre Dame got exposed by Alabama that night. They got de-pantsed, drug kicking into the light. They were revealed to be impostors. The curtain was unceremoniously ripped back and we didn’t much like what we saw.
Yesterday we found out what fraud really is.
You see, Manti Te’o’s girlfriend wasn’t actually dead. They hadn’t met at a football game. She wasn’t the “most beautiful person he’d ever met” and he wasn’t “honoring her passing with his play on the field.”
Not only was she not dead. She had never lived. She didn’t exist. She was a figment of someone’s imagination. A puff of smoke. A David Copperfield illusion that, after a few abra-cadabra’s seemed real enough until we watched things back in slow motion.
Yesterday evening the University of Notre Dame Athletic Director claimed that Te’o had been the victim of an elaborate and devious prank that had taken advantage of his innocence and his belief in his, *sniff* *sniff*, fellow man.
But you probably already knew all of this. You probably have heard about Manti’s situation, ad nauseam, for the past 1.5 days. I’ll leave the rest of the digging to the real professionals.
What I want to know more about is Lennay Kekua. That’s the fake-dead fake-girlfriend of Te’o. Who is she really? Who was behind this scam? Was he in on it? What else isn’t Manti telling us? Let’s talk this thing out together.
– So Manti found out about his fake-dead, fake-girlfriend being a hoax only a week and a half before his team gets completely slaughtered by the Alabama Crimson Tide, huh? Weird. I wonder if we know any evil, sociopathic geniuses with enough money and intelligence to perpetrate this kind of crime in an effort to completely disrupt Notre Dame’s best player. . .but who could seamlessly pass themselves off as a beautiful woman while secretly scheming to destroy someone? Who?!?!
– Manti’s girlfriend was fake? What next? We find out his tattoo was actually purchased from a machine at Wal-Mart’s entrance for $.50?
– We here at Burnpoetry have obtained an exclusive, secret photo of the floor of Jack Swarbrick’s office on the day he first was told about Te’o’s fake-dead fake-girlfriend. Here it is:
– I feel like, somehow, this will all get tied back to being LeBron James’ fault. Or do I just wish that? I’m not sure.
– How was it possible for anyone to get less laid than Tim Tebow while being almost as big of a school celebrity?
– Unfazed by this bizarre turn of events, Brent Musburger was overhead claiming that he’d “still be willing” to creepily leer at Lennay Kekua.
– Are we going to find out that Te’o’s actually been dating a program from the Matrix? The Internet is taking over, people. Brace yourself for the machine apocalypse.
– Te’o’s friends first became suspicious about his new girlfriend they were first introduced at his home:
Te’Ohhellno. . .
– When reached for comment, Oprah’s publicist would only say, “NNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
– I feel like, at any moment, Te’o could come forward and tell us that his name is actually Bryan Smith, he’s not a Mormon and he has just been preternaturally gifted with a sweet, sweet tan.
– The only logical explanation here is that Te’o and Chris Hansen of Dateline NBC are going to have a joint press conference at some point this week where they both announce that, in an elaborate cross-promotional tie-in involving Notre Dame’s contract with NBC, Te’o was involved in a top-secret sting operation and that, indeed, they did catch a predator.