BY NOW, MOST OF YOU READING THIS WILL HAVE ALREADY HEARD the strange tale of Manti Te’o, the Notre Dame linebacker who was either involved in an elaborate hoax or perpetrated a long con of a weird lie concerning a girlfriend who, during the lead up to this year’s NCAA BCS Championship game, died of leukemia.
Te’o, the Heisman Trophy runner-up claims to have met Lennay Kekua online and began a long, loving relationship before she passed away from cancer. Problem was, Lennay Kekua did not exist, and the rest of us are left to figure out whether Te’o was complicit in the scheme, for whatever reason; sympathy, narrative, psychosis. Only something this bizarre could take the front page away from Dopin’ Lance Armstrong and his tight tight bike shorts filled with cancer surviving testicles and lies.
The media will fill its column inches over the coming days, weeks, and months doing its best to try and uncover the truth behind this story that makes Suzy Favor Hamilton’s story look downright normal. As usual, Headshots is ahead of the game. Here are a few tangents from the Te’o tale that the mainstream media won’t give you, a quick guide to the perverted and sordid undertow of this strange tale.
1. Catholic Institutions Lie
A famed Catholic institution covers up an elaborate lie in order to maintain its legacy, power, and for its own financial success. Where have we heard this story before? Oh, ya, every goddamn time the Catholics are involved. The Catholics lie more than an intern with a hickey after the staff Christmas party, and this occasion is no exception. Notre Dame was covering this thing up faster than a, well, an intern with a hickey after the staff Christmas party. Their fraudulent attempts ran so deep, Headshots fully expects a Dan Brown novel based on the events within the year. Dust off your bad hairpiece, Tom Hanks. We got another big budget thriller for you!
2. The Sports Media Is Filled with Incompetent Lazy Morons
CNN, Sports Illustrated, CBS, ESPN, Knitting Quarterly, and every other news outlet staffed by hungry DeVry graduates reported this story as fact, complete with (falsified) interviews with Te’o’s family and teammates about poor, poor Lennay. Only problem? She did not f***ing exist! What did these once reputable agencies use as their source, their one source? Twitter. TWITTER. You know who else uses social media as their primary source? 14 year-old valley girls bullying other 14 year-old valley girls. And who broke the story? Deadspin. DEADSPIN!!! While not a site without its merits, it wasn’t that long ago that this TMZ for sports outlet published the sexploits of John Salley. And now they’re the benchmark for journalistic integrity? Yipes. The Mayans were right, just off by a month.
3. Mormons Are Having a Bad Stretch
Whether it be the cancellation of the Bill Paxton Mormon soaper Big Love, or the popularity/exploitation of the TLC series Sister Brother Wife Cousin Aunt, or a presidential candidate who really didn’t want to be president losing to Obama (thank whatever spaceship god the Mormons dig) it has been a bad run for the Church of Latter Day Saints. Te’o is a Mormon, which leads one to wonder what he was doing at Notre Dame in the first place. I mean, not a lot of Muslims enrolling at Regent University, amirite? Even still, for a religion with enough problems convincing the public they’re not all two Salt Lake Cities short of a Utah, having their second most nationally prominent parishioner inventing cancer-stricken lovers ain’t gonna do much for the Sunday donation hat.
4. Football Players Are the Worst
Allow us to be serious for a moment. In recent memory, football players have committed murder, suicide, sexual assault, vehicular manslaughter, stabbings, tried to bring guns on a plane, and quite simply represented a microcosm of society’s slow decent into what Dante called: A VIOLENT HELLFIRE OF APOCALYPSE (paraphrasing, of course. We don’t read Italian). From Ray Lewis to Jovan Belcher to Josh Brent to Kenny Britt to Andre Smith, football players have come to represent the criminal, the perverse, and the detritus of Western culture. And that’s to say nothing of Tom Brady’s man Uggs.
The great unspoken, unreported, unconscionable reality of football, both pro and college, is that it is propelled and powered by an American obsession with wagering. You don’t quite realize the depths of this obsession until you’ve stood in the middle of a Vegas sports book bar at two in the afternoon on a Saturday as a grown man lies crying in a pool of his own urine, vomit, and excrement, as his wife screams to an absent god, having just lost their entire life savings on Michigan Poly Tech State failing to cover the spread against South Eastern Idaho A&M at Boise (go Fightin’ Capybaras!).
Te’o’s absence from any games due to the public outing of his (alleged) crimes would have greatly affected the sports book, and disrupted the underground economy that the sport relies on for its popularity and California in the 80s like GDP. I’d put money on the fact that Notre Dame kept this quiet until after the BCS game, and I’d have gotten 5:2 odds on it.
So, as this story continues to unfold, and Twitter runs amok with fake dead girlfriend jokes, let us leave you with this thought: Obama is Hawaiian. Te’o is Hawaiian. Te’o is a Mormon. Mitt Romney is a Mormon. Obama beat Romney. Conspiracy theorists, get at it.