Manti Te’o is a good-looking young man, a star athlete at one of the most prestigious universities in the country, a future millionaire and, by all accounts, an upstanding citizen. And yet he wants the public to believe that he had a “girlfriend” for more than three years that he met online but never encountered in person?

Stop laughing.

Then again, laugh all you like because it is laughable for anyone to think Te’o is that naive and that silly to be that gullible.

There are so many questions.

Why in the name of groupies would he, as the ultimate eligible bachelor, claim a relationship with someone that he has admitted he never saw, never touched, never smelled?

Where are the women on Notre Dame’s campus who have been Te’o’s “side chick,” to use today’s vernacular “? He’s 22 and one would imagine overflowing with testosterone. And yet his “girlfriend” was a cyberspace companion that he loved?

Not to sound skeptical, but gimme a break.

This story is so outlandish, yet so simple, too. If Te’o was not a part of this madness, it would be shocking.

Here’s the backstory, as reported in the South Bend Tribune, the Notre Dame city paper:

Te’o and “Lennay Kekua” met after a game at Stanford in 2009.

This is how the Tribune wrote of Te’o and “Kekua”: “Their stares got pleasantly tangled, then Manti Te’o extended his hand to the stranger with a warm smile and soulful eyes. They could have just as easily brushed past each other and into separate sunsets. Te’o had plenty to preoccupy himself that November weekend in Palo Alto, Calif., back in 2009.”

Yes, that reads like a bad romance novel. There’s more: “Lennay Kekua was a Stanford student and Cardinal football fan when the two exchanged glances, handshakes and phone numbers that fateful weekend three seasons ago.”

Te’o’s father, Brian, said in the article: “They started out as just friends. Every once in a while, she would travel to Hawaii, and that happened to be the time Manti was home, so he would meet with her there. But within the last year, they became a couple.”

That’s pretty amazing since now there are rampant reports that his parents never met “Kekua,” either.

The Tribune said its narrative was based on interviews with Te’o, coaches and family. The story has been deleted from its website.

Getting the picture here?

Worse was that she eventually “died” in September of leukemia, six hours after his grandmother passed. And yet he did not attend the funeral of “the love of his life,” as he called “her.”

Te’o has some “splaining” to do, as Ricky Ricardo would put it.

And here’s the bad part: Nothing he says will put him in a better light.

If he insists he was totally unaware this woman never existed, then he has to be looked at as foolish. How can anyone have a three-year “relationship” with someone and never meet? How can he call her, as he did, “the love of his life,” yet never shared a dinner with her? Further, how can an NFL team trust that he has the acumen to decipher defenses – or that he will not spend nights on instead of watching game film?

If Te’o says he was complicit in the hoax to gain sympathy and support in a Heisman Trophy run, psychologists would knock each other over for a chance to get him on their couch. And NFL teams would become even more leery of the man, if not the player.

Teo’s statement Wednesday did nothing to help his cause.

“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,” he said. “To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.”

The joke is not only on Te’o, he is the joke, and will be for some time to come.


Girlfriend hoaxLennay kekuaManti te'oNfl draftSports

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