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Manti Te’o Comes Forward; Says He Was Not Involved in Girlfriend Hoax

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing about the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax, and frankly so am I. What I want now is for the truth to finally come out so we can end this madness and get on to important stuff like, I don’t know, actual sporting events.

Many have been speculating as to whether Te’o would/should speak publicly about the incident involving Lennay Kekua, who at this point seems very unlikely to be a real person. Frankly I’m not surprised he waited a couple of days because either he’s a prolific liar and duped us all, or he fell in love with a girl he never met in person and looks like a total (insert condescending adjective).

In an off-camera interview with ESPN, Te’o finally broke his silence and claims he never had anything to do with the hoax that captivated America and turned Te’o into a borderline hero.

“I wasn’t faking it,” he said. “I wasn’t part of this. When (people) hear the facts, they’ll know. They’ll know that there is no way that I could be part of this.”

The whole thing is murky at best and I get the feeling we’ll be only speculating on this for a long time, but in the interview with ESPN, Te’o claims he still wasn’t fully convinced Kekua was fake until Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the mastermind behind the hoax (the only one, allegedly), called Te’o two days ago to apologize.

When Deadspin first reported the story, there were several holes that seemed to implicate Te’o as having some involvement, and that he was using it as a publicity stunt to boost his Heisman candidacy. In this long interview with ESPN tonight, he cleared a lot of that up. Here is an excerpt from the ESPN story.

“He lied to his father about having met Kekua, prompting his father to tell reporters that the two had met. Several media stories indicated that he and Kekua had met. Te’o insisted they never did.

He tried to speak with Kekua via Skype and FaceTime on several occasions, but the person at the other end of the line was in what he called a “black box” and wasn’t seen.

Te’o said he ‘catered’ his stories so people would think he ‘met her before she passed away.’”

Even clearing some of that stuff up, there are still interesting holes in the story. If he loved her so dearly, why did he not try to go see her when she was in a supposed car accident and forced into a coma? Why didn’t he visit her when she was “diagnosed” with leukemia. Why were there some suspicious tweets mentioning her and her supposed sister deleted from Te’o’s account?

The most bizarre aspect is after he supposedly found out the hoax on December 6, he went on to mention her in interviews afterthe fact, including at the Heisman ceremony. He could have been trying to avoid embarrassment, but doesn’t a little part of you think he might have had a hand in all of this? I know I do.

There are many questioned left to be answered, and hopefully the answers to those will surface sooner rather than later.

Jeff Shull is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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