As we digest the latest chapter in ‘As Manti Te’o Turns,’ I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of these staged interviews with the former Notre Dame All-American linebacker.
No offense Jeremy Schaap or Katie Couric, but if Te’o really wants to begin clearing his name and rebuilding his reputation, he needs to stand before the masses like a man and have a live press conference fielding any and all questions.
Wouldn’t you do that if you were truly innocent? I certainly would. I would want the world to know how passionate I am about my innocence and how willing I am to try and clear my name.
Without such a live event, Te’o’s image will never be the same. This so-called hoax is simply too hard to believe, as Te’o would like you to believe 110-percent duped.
After all, this isn’t a dumb guy. He graduated from Notre Dame in three-and-a-half years.
But he has now admitted on camera to lying to his own father.
Not only that, but he let the lie live on after receiving a call claiming that Lennay Kekua (his “girlfriend”) and her death were hoaxes.
“Katie, put yourself in my situation,” Te’o told Couric on her taped syndicated show that aired today. “I, my whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12.”
Well, Manti you weren’t that “committed” to her. You didn’t go to the hospital when she was sick, didn’t attend her funeral or even go visit her grave.
Since the story broke, Notre Dame players have admitted they knew his girlfriend did not exist and in fact the woman wasn’t really his girlfriend at all.
There were other girlfriends in Te’o’s life. That should surprise no one. After all, he’s a college football star in his early 20s and I’m sure there were plenty of girls shall we say interested in him. However, those other girls didn’t give him the publicity he so craved from the supposed dead one. Even one of Te’o’s teammates told ESPN that he “liked attention so much that he would sometimes point himself out to friends when he was on television.”
As for Notre Dame’s role in this whole soap opera – if you don’t want to say the university covered up the truth, well then it sat on the truth for more than a week until after after the BCS National Championship Game, and after Deadspin broke the story.
Notre Dame’s role in this aside, let’s start connecting the dots to how the story became public and how we actually got to hear from Te’o.
Tom Condon, Teo’s agent, reportedly told ESPN of the story. The network didn’t air it because they couldn’t get an interview with Te’o. In the meantime, Deadspin did the legwork and to its credit broke this incredible story.
Then Creative Artists Agency, whose football division is headed up by Condon, set up an off-camera interview with Schaap. Can you say staged? That was followed by CAA’s Matthew Hiltzik, Te’o’s publicist, setting up the interview with Couric. Ironically Couric is also represented by CAA.
Now that’s how you control the message, plain and simple.
The fact is this whole thing stinks. Actually, it reeks. We’re not getting the whole truth from Te’o, his agent or his agency. We may never know what exactly happened.
But for those advising Te’o it might be wise to have their client talk about the subject one last time. This time, in an open press conference forum, where there are no parameters.
That’s the only way Te’o has a chance to save his once impeccable image.
Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.