The movie Love Actually is a fictional story about fictional couples that makes everyone feel all weepy-eyed and warm inside at the power of true love. Turns out, the love life of Notre Dame Linebacker Manti Te’o was also a fictional story about a fictional couple that made everyone feel all weepy-eyed and warm inside at the power of true love. Except now, that “warm feeling” is the pee dripping down your leg from laughing way too hard at the absurdity of this entire ordeal.
Deadspin’s remarkable investigative piece which uncovered that Manti’s dead girlfriend never really existed has turned the former Heisman Trophy candidate from “gridiron warrior” to inevitable SNL skit in a matter of weeks. But even as we shake our heads at the hot mess that is this story, we can’t help but ask, “Why?”
Te’o and Notre Dame are sticking to the story that this was an elaborate hoax orchestrated by evil-doers in the dark of night to toy with Te’o. But what would be there motivation? How could they have known that a starting linebacker at one of the biggest football programs in the country would eagerly resort to an internet only relationship with a girl he had never met in person when he was probably getting tang thrown at him on a daily basis on campus? And furthermore, what was the end-game for these pranksters?
And let’s say it was a hoax. The fact can’t be denied that Te’o himself was all too eager to do a little duping of his own, when he spoke to media outlets about “seeing” his girlfriend again, sending flowers to her funeral and “the first time they met.” Even if he really thought the love of his life was a girl he had only exchanged emails with (in this age of video chat and face conferences via a cell phone, but whatevs), he still seemed complicit in advancing a storyline that wasn’t true. And then there’s the fact that two days after Te’o says he learned he was the victim of a hoax, he said this:
“I don’t like cancer at all. I lost both my grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer.”
That’s right, he still pulled the cancer card when he knew his relationship with Lennay Kekua was about as real as the love shared between Jan Brady and George Glass. What the hell were you thinking, kid?
So where do we go from here? I’ve seen a few options tossed around for Te’o to put this behind him. Let’s explore.
1. Admit it all now!
There’s a strange irony to the fact that the “King of Denial” Lance Armstrong is breaking his silence this week and potentially owning up to his web of lies. Learn from Lance, Manti! It only get worse from here on out. You made a fool of major media outlets. They will be hell bent on taking you down until you make it right in their eyes. (Despite the fact that this whole mess could have been uncovered forever ago had one journalist bothered to, you know, fact check.)
Anyways, Lie upon lie upon lie only further buries you and your reputation. Don’t let this linger and the questions mount until April, when your damaged draft stock could take an even bigger nose dive.
2. Say you’re gay!
There are many who suspect that Manti may have concocted this whole mess to hide the truth about his sexuality. If it were the case, that would garner sympathy from many in the public who understand how it would seem almost impossible for an athlete of his stature at a Catholic school with a Mormon background to come out. He’d get the support of the LGBT community and an Oprah interview to boot! (In other news, who knew saying you were gay could one day save you from a media firestorm. We’ve come a long way, people!)
3. Say you were doping!
We’re not talking performance enhancers. We’re talking dope. Like seriously, say you were on crack.
Other than that, I got nothing for you. Although perhaps we should be thanking you for giving us the latest social media gem:#Te’oing.
It almost makes you feel sorry for the guy, until you realize this is a bed he made for himself. The good news for Te’o before this unfolded was that America loves a good love story. The bad news for Te’o, is that America loves a good downfall story even more.