Manti Te’o, the former Notre Dame football player at the center of a controversy surrounding his alleged involvement in what has been described as a “hoax.” Te’o developed an online relationship with imaginary Stanford student, Lennay Kekua. Te’o has finally spoken out publicly, but you won’t be able to watch. In an interview with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap Te’o, with his lawyer present, Te’o gave details on how he “met” Lannay and how the “relationship” progressed.
- Manti Te’o admits to crafting stories to make people believe he had actually met Lennay
- He lied to his father about having met Kekua, prompting his father to tell reporters that the two had met. Several media stories indicated that he and Kekua had met. Te’o insisted they never did.
- He tried to speak with Kekua via Skype and Facetime on several occasions, but the person at the other end of the line was in what he called a “black box” and wasn’t seen.
- The first time he met Tuiasosopo was after Notre Dame beat USC on Nov. 24. Tuiasosopo is the man Deadspin and others have said was behind the hoax. Earlier Friday, ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” reported that Tuiasosopo called a church friend in early December crying and admitted to duping Te’o. The friend, a woman in her mid-20s, agreed to be interviewed under the condition that she not be identified, saying she was fearful for her family’s safety because of the overwhelming publicity the story has generated.
- A group of people, including a woman claiming to be Lennay, showed up at the team hotel for the Discover BCS National Championship Game in Miami. Te’o said he knew they were at the hotel because the group took photos in the lobby of the hotel. Te’o said it affected his play in the game, where Notre Dame lost to Alabama 42-14.
- ”I knew that — I even knew that it was crazy that I was with somebody that I didn’t meet,” [Te’o] said. “And that alone people find out that this girl who died I was so invested in, and I didn’t meet her as well.”
- On December 6th, three months after he believed “Lennay” passed away, he received a phone call from that number claiming that she faked her death because of issues with “drug money”
This whole story is bizarre. TV movie worthy. I don’t know what to think at this point. Te’o is either incredibly naive or sickeningly creative. If Tuiasosopo really duped him to that degree, including having three different people impersonating the voice, how incredibly gullible for Te’o. How do you feel comfortable as an NFL team bringing someone that “green” into your program?
The flip side to that; if he Te’o was involved, are you comfortable with a guy who’d go those extremes for attention as part of your organization. I guess the answer to that question is really how big of a need would he feel and how talented you believe him to be.