There is an obvious answer to my question posed in the headline of this post, I’m not naive enough to not realize that. I understand Manti Te’o has a bright future in the NFL, and he’s doing whatever he can to protect his name moving forward and get at least his version of the truth out there. However, him leaving out certain details, while at the same time all these people continue to jump through hoops to clear his name, creates a cloud of uncertainty that I cannot ignore.
Why are countless people appearing on TV shows all saying the same thing? It would seem, with a story so out there and twisted, that somewhere along the road of clearing Te’o's name there would be some differences in the accounts of what happened.
But no. All those involved are singing the same tune: Te’o had nothing to do with it and he was duped. It’s almost too perfect.
Let’s go through all the things people have done to clear his name.
First, Te’o claims he was informed of the hoax prior to the Heisman Trophy presentation, yet decided to keep it quiet. He says it was the girl he thought to be his former girlfriend who called him, and said she had to fake her death. His only real explanation of this is a “what did you expect me to do” attitude. Fair enough.
Diane O’Meara, a professional marketing executive from Los Angeles, came out on the “Today” show and revealed Ronaiah Tuiasasopo called her and confessed to the whole thing. She was the woman Tuiasasopo used as the “face” for Lennay Kekua, Te’o's supposed girlfriend.
Just days before the national championship game, Te’o claims Tuiasasopo called him and apologized for the whole thing, which Te’o also claims to not have been fully convinced it was a hoax until that moment.
Te’o appeared in an off-camera interview with ESPN, then appeared live with Katie Couric, and in both instances he vehemently denies having anything to do with the hoax.
This morning on the “Today” show, Dr. Phil McGraw came on to preview an interview he had with Tuiasasopo which is set to air Thursday and Friday. He told NBC Te’o “absolutely, unequivocally” had no involvement in the hoax. His assessment of the matter is based on this interview, in which he reveals Tuiasasopo was “in love” with Te’o and has deep seeded issues.
In all of this media madness in a clear attempt to absolve Te’o from any involvement, the Notre Dame star still has yet to answer some glaring holes within the story. In interviews prior to the hoax being revealed, he claimed Kekua to be the love of his life, despite having never met her in person.
Why then would he not visit her after she supposedly dipped into a coma after a severe car crash? Why did he not visit her after she was diagnosed with leukemia? Why didn’t he attend her funeral? Why didn’t he try to spend holidays with her? Why were there several tweets to Kekua’s supposed sister deleted from Te’o's account later? Why, when the story seemed to drive his Heisman campaign, did he not come clean until after Deadspin uncovered the incident despite learning of it over a month prior? What did he have to hide?
Was this part of it? Were these measures all put in place as a fail safe if the hoax was ever revealed? Could O’Meara possibly be in on it as well? Could “getting caught” be a part of the whole thing as well? All Te’o needed was Tuiasasopo to confess to the entire thing and O’Meara to corroborate that “truth.” Te’o gets a feel good story that nearly won him the Heisman trophy, while two people from Los Angeles go from relative nobodies to famous overnight.
The bottom line is there are too many holes behind this story for me to just accept what Te’o, Tuiasasopo and O’Meara are telling me as the truth. Until all these questions are answered, we’ll never know what actually happened.