SPORTSBALL LIES! Featuring Manti Te'o and Lance Armstrong...
1/17/2013 3:00:00 PM
All sports in today’s blog…if you followed college football this year . . . particularly Notre Dame . . . you've probably heard of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, who had an amazing season, and was the Heisman Trophy runner-up.
He did it after losing his grandmother . . . and his girlfriend . . . within six hours back in September. His girlfriend, 22-year-old Lennay Kekua, had been in a serious car accident, and then had subsequently been diagnosed with leukemia.
Or that's the sad, inspirational story that he shared with the media . . . and commented on throughout the remainder of the season. Manti's grandmother DID pass away . . . there's a record of that . . . but as Deadspin.com discovered, there's no record of his girlfriend's death . . . because there's no record that she EVER EVEN EXISTED IN THE FIRST PLACE.
The site broke it all down in an exhaustively comprehensive report, where NOTHING added up. Basically, everyone just ASSUMED Lennay existed . . . because Manti said she did . . . but no one actually had any proof that she was real.
The case against Lennay's existence was AIRTIGHT: In addition to their being no record of her death, there was no record of her funeral . . . her accident . . . her hospital stays . . . her birth . . . or her alleged graduation from Stanford.
Stanford had no record of her at all . . . and neither did the Internet . . . aside from a few Twitter and Instagram accounts. And in those, the photos of Lennay were actually pictures of another girl on Facebook . . . a girl who had never met Manti. Obviously, Manti had some explaining to do . . . especially since he can't exactly duck out of the public eye.
He's currently preparing for the NFL Draft, where he's expected to go in the first round. Or at least WAS expected to. Yesterday, he released a statement admitting that . . . he was DUPED, and that someone had played a "sick joke" on him. He said, quote, "This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time . . . "I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online.
We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her. "To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating . . . I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been."
Notre Dame backed him up . . . releasing a statement saying that Manti and his family had come to them on December 26th, and explained he had been, quote, "the victim of what appears to be a hoax . . . "In which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia." The athletic director says Manti had discovered the scam weeks before that.
Manti told him that when he was at the ESPN awards, which aired December 6th, someone called him from Lennay's phone number. He explains, quote, "When he answered it, it was a person whose voice sounded like the same voice he had talked to, who told him that she was, in fact, not dead." Naturally, this raises a TON of questions: For starters, Manti and his family have insinuated that he not only talked to her at length on the phone, but that they'd also met in person.
However, it's unclear if that happened . . . or how it could've. Also, Deadspin seems to believe that the hoax was run by some guy named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo . . . because he's the only link between the REAL girl in Lennay's photos, and Manti. Manti and Ronaiah are friends, or so their interactions on Twitter would suggest. So it all boils down to this: Is Manti REALLY stupid enough to have maintained a relationship . . . with a "girlfriend" . . . for at least a year, without realizing that she isn't real? By the same token, is this Ronaiah guy . . . or whoever was involved . . . REALLY clever enough to keep this ruse going for over a year . . . not to mention willing to spend the time and energy to do it?
That brings up even bigger questions: What's the motive? Why would someone spend over a year playing this elaborate, cold prank on Manti? What would they have to gain, that would be worth all that time and effort? Or if Manti WAS involved, what would he have to gain by helping to execute this elaborate story?
Would the publicity and attention be enough to warrant a scheme of this magnitude? He DID become one of the stories of college football this year, but it's hard to know how much the fake girlfriend added to that. He did have a phenomenal year, on a team that went to the National Championship. That's where they got BLOWN OUT OF THE WATER by Alabama . . . oddly enough, a team with another player with an infamous girlfriend (On the bright side, I guess Lennay's non-existence explains why BRENT MUSBURGER wasn't drooling over her.).
It'll be interesting to see where this story goes from here. It's hard to believe Manti helped orchestrate all this, but it's also pretty hard to believe he WASN'T involved.
And in case you’re wondering, this story WAS a big deal. Here's a five-minute piece ESPN did on it in the middle of the season.
That ESPN article throws another wrench into the story. Reagan Mauia, an Arizona Cardinals fullback, said he believes Lennay DID EXIST because he met her in person back in June of 2011.
Leave your comments on this story below…was this all a hoax from Manti to win the Heisman trophy? Or was he “Catfished?”
The other big story is Lance Armstrong…his interview on Oprah's cable channel airs tonight. . . . The interview got off to an awkward start. Oprah said, "How did you get the strength to do this interview?" And Lance said, "Duh. Steroids." . . .
Before Oprah's interview, Lance apologized to employees of his charity. There were tears, weeping, and hysterics. Like me, during Jodie Foster's Golden Globe speech. . . .
Don't forget, Lance was already stripped of his Tour de France titles. Right now, his trophy shelf is emptier than Anne Hathaway's panty drawer.
We all know he confessed about doping in his interview with Oprah, so where does he go from here? Check out the Celebrity To Do List of Lance Armstrong.
8:00 A.M.: Wake up from terrible dream that I'd lost it all and everybody hated me. Oh. Crap. Right.
8:30 A.M.: Balanced breakfast: cereal, juice and human growth hormone.
8:30 A.M.: Eat cereal for breakfast. Then deny eating cereal for breakfast.
9:00 A.M.: Practice apology in the mirror while rubbing on self tanner.
9:10 A.M.: Morning checklist: Hair, combed. Teeth, brushed. Blood, tainted.
9:15 A.M.: Wonder if lifelong ban on cycling applies to my local spinning class?
10:20 A.M.: Wonder if admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs was really the best choice, after catching Jose Canseco digging through my garbage.
11:00 A.M.: Search for the OWN network on my cable provider . . . fail miserably.
11:20 A.M.: Get dressed in spandex one-piece that shows off my junk.
12:00 P.M.: Lunch at Burger King. Steal ketchup packets. Then call Oprah and confess to stealing ketchup packets.
12:15 P.M.: Admit I faked the cancer thing, too. Screw it. It's not like my life can get any worse.
1:30 P.M.: Dust trophy shelf. Note how much faster I can do it now that there aren't any trophies.
2:00 P.M.: Meet with Macy's about new line of "Liestrong" bracelets.
2:30 P.M.: Get asked how I'm doing . . . respond with a lie.
2:45 P.M.: Grocery shop. Stare jealously at the full bags of nuts.
3:00 P.M.: Zoo. Head straight for "cheetah" exhibit.
3:50 P.M.: Use the bathroom. Erode the toilet with my chemically-laden urine stream.
4:00 P.M.: Get dumped as spokesman by Michelob Ultra. Wow. My stock really has plummeted.
4:30 P.M.: Remind the world I TOTALLY could have won without cheating. Just as long as I had some human growth hormones, cortisone, EPO, steroids, plasma, saline, testosterone, and a special machine to put more oxygen into my blood.
5:00 P.M.: Receive a photo of Sheryl Crow cackling spitefully and gleefully flipping me off.
7:30 P.M.: Pop in my favorite movie, "Liar, Liar."
8:50 P.M.: Take steroids. Hey, I said I was sorry. Not that I was quitting.
10:00 P.M.: Slide into bed made entirely of money . . . sleep just fine.
Has Lance’s interview with Oprah changed your opinion of him? Leave your comments below.