Like the great Michael Jordan I have decided to come out of retirement ‚Äî blog retirement that is.
I decided about a year ago that my blogging days were over. With some new responsibilities at the office something had to give.
But one man made me come out of retirement. And that man is Manti Te’o.
Here is the cliffnotes on Te’o in case you are not up on the news or don’t have a Twitter account. Te’o, a Heisman contender, publicly talked about his girlfriend, whose death from Leukemia came hours after his grandmother died. The tragedy motivated him to have the season of his lifetime for Notre Dame.
Wednesday it was revealed that Te’o’s girlfriend never existed by Deadspin.com. Te’o and Notre Dame released statements saying he was a victim of a hoax.
My slice of heaven inside the Daily American office is between the sports department and my friend and reporting partner in crime, Phil Petrunak. I’ll be honest. I don’t follow college football that closely. But all it took is Phil uttering the words “his dead girlfriend is a hoax” to Christina in sports and I was hooked.
First off kudos to Deadspin. They did what many reporting on this story failed to do - verify facts. At first I defended my fellow journalists. I would hate to live in a society where we had to pry to make sure someone’s girlfriend really died of leukemia, or even existed.
But then I went home and closely read the Deadspin article.
It appeared there were obviously red flags people should have noticed. One news organization had different dates of Lennay Kekua’s death appear in different stories. No one noticed the discrepancy.
An ESPN reporter said he could not find an obituary or notice of a memorial service for Lennay. He asked Te’o for a photo or to talk with her parents for an October expose on the linebacker. When Te’o said the family wants to keep it private the reporter figured that is why he could not find an obituary.
So the story grew and was featured in publications and on newscasts as Notre Dame continued their undefeated season, only losing to Alabama in the BCS Championship Game. Not one reporter noticed different dates. Not one news agency questioned the lack of an obituary.
Notre Dame officials are calling Te’o a victim of an elaborate hoax, but I find it hard to believe that we are not the victims. Why would Te’o lie about meeting Lennay in person if he truly met her online. Why would he call her the love of his life if he has never seen her smile in person. Officials say he found out about the hoax in early December, told coaches in late December and was planning to announce the story next week.
So the question remains ‚Äî is Te’o the victim or are we?
I was expecting quick response from Te’o. He has had over a month to figure out how to explain away comments he made after her death. But, expect for a few grainy photos from Florida, Te’o is in hiding.
When I asked the Twitterverse what they thought @DOnofrioMike Tweeted “@DAMichelleG Too many inconsistencies right now to believe Te’o was not part of the hoax but reserving final judgment until he talks.”
But he must talk soon. Now that the story is out the media is doing research, which they should have done in September, and it is not looking good for the linebacker. He needs to come out with a good explanation as to what happened. I know football players are not known for their genius IQs but I find it hard to believe, like many others, that he never asked to meet, have a webchat, or see a copy of an obituary.
Whether he was the perpetrator or the victim when you live in the pubic eye, and your scandal early broke social media platforms, you need to face the music ‚Äî and that time is now.
Today is Friday, and the clock is ticking.
(I wanted to work in a ALL HAIL PITT in here but could not find the right place. So ALL HAIL PITT.)
Tags: Manti Te'o