TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – According to an explosive report by the website Deadspin.com, the girlfriend of Notre Dame linebacker, and Heisman Trophy runner-up, Mant Te’o did not exist.
Te’o, who claimed for months his girlfriend Lennay Kekua had died of leukemia, was either the victim of an elaborate hoax or part of a very elaborate lie. Trying to figure out which scenario actually occurred depends on who you’re willing to believe.
Te’o has not spoken on the matter yet, issuing a press release on Wednesday that said he was the victim of a hoax. Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbick, who spoke to the media less than four hours after the initial Deadspin report, backed Te’o’s comments as well, saying it was all part of an “elaborate hoax”.
There are varying opinions on whether or not Te’o was duped or was in on the hoax.
Where it gets fishy is in the specific details that Te’o fed the media relative to his relationship with Kekua.
In their press releases, both Te’o and Swarbick were adamant the relationship was strictly and online affair in which there was no contact, just phone conversations, tweets and e-mails.
Yet, in an interview with Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated, Te’o states he actually met Kekua in person:
“We met just, ummmm, just she knew my cousin. And kind of saw me there so. Just kind of regular.”
Moreover, Te’o’s father Brian said Kekua traveled to Hawaii to visit Manti:
“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.”
Furthermore, Te’o who described Kekua in such ways as this…
“Lennay was so special. Her relationship with the heavenly father was so strong. She’s so humble, hard working. And her main thing was her family. Her family was everything to her. As long as she took care of her family. And as long as she knew that her relationship with our heavenly father was strong, she had faith that everyone would work out. With her it was just always loving God and her family. I was just blessed to be part of that.”
…was unable to remember what year she graduated from college, as well as what she was studying:
“She graduated in 2011 or 2010.”
“Her major was in English and something. I’ll double check.”
All in all the story still has much to be told. Te’o must speak on the matter soon as to avoid further embarrassment, as well avoiding the huge public relations hit that could affect his NFL draft status in April. To be continued…