Most people figured that the Manti Te’o fake dead girlfriend story got as bizarre as it was going to get last week. After all, it is pretty difficult to top a guy carrying on a season long PR campaign about how he was persevering despite his girlfriend’s death, only to eventually find out that the dead girlfriend was a.) not dead, b.) not his girlfriend, and c.) never existed.
Last week was just an appetizer.
According to a recent report, the reason that Te’o and his family have agreed to their much ballyhooed Oprah-esque interview with Katie Couric this week is because they were all taken by the Notre Dame linebacker’s fictional partner, Lennay Kekua. How taken were they exactly? Taken enough to have wanted to convert Kekua to Mormonism.
“The person said Ottilia Te'o, Manti Te'o's mother, had spoken with Lennay Kekua about converting to Mormonism and that the family had engaged in Bible study with her via text message,” USA Today wrote on Sunday.
At a certain point last week just about everyone believed that Te’o and -- most likely -- his family had been at least somewhat in on this hoax. It just seemed unfeasible that a group of people who were as successful and intelligent and they seemed to be could get scammed like this.
However, as more information emerges, it is getting increasingly more difficult to believe that they were/are making all this up. If you were attempting to salvage your public reputation and retain some measure of dignity, would confessing to the fact that you planned to convert your son’s girlfriend -- who neither you nor he had ever met -- to Mormonism via text message really be the way to go?
After the Couric interview, this entire situation will begin to lose steam at a record pace. The public only has so much attention to spare on any given day, and there is already a certain wariness being exhibited towards the most recent Te’o developments.
Still, when people reflect on what has transpired in a week, month and year from now, it will be only be viewed through one of two lenses: either Te’o is the dumbest guy ever, or he is a liar who simply tried to act like the dumbest guy ever to preserve his reputation as best he could.
Neither option is particularly appealing, obviously.