With so many questions rising out of the Deadspin.com article concerning Manti Te’o and the deceased girlfriend who was indeed not deceased, Notre Dame has taken a firm stance in the corner of their star linebacker.
In a news conference this evening Jack Swarbick, Notre Dame’s Vice President/Director of Athletics, laid out a detailed response to the ongoing situation. He explained that the university was informed by Te’o himself in late December that the star football player thought he may have been a victim of some sort of fraud.
Back in September of 2012, Te’o had lost his grandmother, and then just six hours later, was told that his girlfriend had succumbed to her battle with leukemia. The public support for Te’o had been intense and heartfelt, and the eventual Heisman Trophy runner-up was propelled into the national spotlight.
According to Swarbick, Te’o had informed the school that he had received a phone call from the girl he thought to be dead and realized he had been duped. Swarbick went on to tell the media that he felt that Te’o was, for all intents and purposes, the perfect mark. Swarbick called Te’o trusting and kindhearted, given to helping others. It would fall right in line that the highly spiritual Te’o would fall victim to such a ploy.
This falls right in line with the public persona that has been attached to the ND defensive star. Much like Tim Tebow, Te’o is seen as a stand up individual who looks to give rather than take. Such a horrible hoax would ruin Te’o’s reputation, and he would be hung in the court of public opinion.
However, Swarbick explained how the university had immediately started an investigation to find out the truth in this matter, and based on what they had discovered, they believe they are right in supporting Te’o at this time. There were many specifics the Notre Dame VP said he would like to leave to Te’o to explain, but he left little doubt as to where the school stands in this situation. There is no doubt the school is ready to get behind the face of their football team, and are doing so unequivocally.
The fact this story has even come to light is extremely shocking. Te’o is a player and person seemingly of genuine character, and now having the specter of a fraud linger around him like this comes as a shocking development. The school may be right in saying Te’o is the perfect storm of compassion, care and goodness making him the perfect person to fall victim of such a demented hoax. Either way, the questions that arise out of this are enough to cause any NFL team plenty of reason to second guess his position on their draft boards.
At this point, it seems as though there are not enough facts available to the public for any of us to make an educated judgement on one of the NFL’s top prospects. The fact that Notre Dame hired investigators and through this investigation have come forward to support their shining star speaks to the truth in Te’o’s claim that he had no idea he was being played in such a way.
The biggest question at this point, besides whether Manti is involved or not, is what was the motive behind this terrible hoax. This is a situation the nation will surely be following intently, and hopefully more answers will come to the light in the near future. Until then, it would be best to reserve judgement until more of the truth comes out.
For the sake of all involved though, I am praying that Te’o was nothing more than the unfortunate victim in this shocking turn of events.
Jeff Everette is a Featured Columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA. Follow Jeff on twitter @jeverettesports, like his page on FaceBook, or add his Google + to your circles for all of his latest articles, thoughts, and rants.