The worst kept secret in all of sports is finally out: Manti Te’o lied about his fake dead girlfriend. At least once. He probably lied about her more than that, however, for now he is just confessing to doing it the one time.
During a recent ABC news interview with Katie Couric, Te’o was asked point blank why he continued to pretend as though Lennay Kekua was a real person after finding out she wasn’t. Moreover, why on Dec. 8, two days after it was purportedly revealed to him that his girlfriend who had died of cancer (whose funeral he didn’t attend) hadn’t in fact died, he publicly acted as though nothing was amiss.
"You stuck to the script. And you knew that something was amiss, Manti," Couric said to the Notre Dame linebacker.
His response was about what you would expect.
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"Katie, put yourself in my situation. I, my whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12.
"Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she's alive and then I'm going be put on national TV two days later. And to ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?" Te'o said.
So Te’o’s justification for letting the nation believe that he had lost his girlfriend over the course of his Heisman runner-up season is...nothing. That is the only logical takeaway from the non-answer he provided Couric with when she asked him why he purposely lied. Reversing the question that someone asks you isn’t an adequate response when you’re doing an interview that is supposedly all about clearing the air.
Couric also spoke to Te’o’s parents in the interview.
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"Now many people writing about this are calling your son a liar. They are saying he manipulated the truth, really for personal gain," Couric said to Te'o's father.
"People can speculate about what they think he is. I've known him 21 years of his life. And he's not a liar. He's a kid," Brian Te'o replied.
The obvious problem with that theory, of course, is the fact that his son admitted to lying earlier in the interview. Maybe it wasn’t about being in on this hoax the whole time – but he clearly admitted to willfully misleading the public.
And therein lays the problem. Everyone already mostly knew that Te’o had lied about at least some aspects of his relationship with Kekua, but once he admitted it, that throws everything else into question as well. If he lied about his fake dead girlfriend two days after allegedly finding out she wasn’t really dead, then can you believe anything else he says?