Let me first say I will not write ABOUT the information acquired by Deadspin, to read the article itself check it out here. This is a reaction, a view of the information we currently have about what even occurred to the most talked about story in college football. Here are definite facts that Deadspin broke:
- Lennay Kekua is not, nor ever was, a real person.
- Manti Te’o has never met Lennay Kekua or anyone of that name.
- The picture of Lennay Kekua were not her, but an anonymous woman who is real who Deadspin refers to as “Reba” in order to preserve her privacy.
- Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the alleged creator of this Lennay Kekua persona, met Reba and requested pictures from her that ended up on Lennay Kekua’s twitter page.
- Lennay Kekua’s twitter changed from @lovalovaloveYOU to @LennayKay and finally to @LoveMSMK.
- Tuiasosopo requested a picture from Reba and requested she hold a sign that read “MSMK” on it.
As far as if Te’o was aware of this all being false or not is still in the air and up for debate. One of the Deadspin sources that knows Tuiasosopo personally, said that he is, “80% sure Te’o was in on it.” That is startling. Now a friend of mine, roommate in fact, points out the question of why the hell do we or should we care? It is a legitimate question, but I think it is important for the simple reasons of respect, honesty.
Think about it, statistically speaking this was his best year by far. It’s his 3rd year in a row having over 100 tackles, 3rd year with over 50 solo tackles, 7 interceptions and 11 passes defended. He had never had a single interception until the 2012 season. Yes stats wise he was very good and made headlines, especially with a revitalized Notre Dame team, but he benefited most from the story line of his girlfriend dying. It grabbed your heart and made you think, wow… this guy is a trooper and a good guy who stood by his woman and damn, his lost his grandma less than 24 hours later? Or was it 3 weeks later… or 2 hours?… there are various different versions of this story.
The real thing I want to point out here is what it means if he knew and what it means if he didn’t.
If he didn’t know then he is extremely gullible and for someone in their early 20’s has been taught nothing from his parents. We all have “dated” someone online at some point, be it World of Warcraft, Skype, Twitter, Facebook or going back to my old school computer days, AIM. But, I did that when I was 14, not 22 getting ready to become a professional athlete. I was young, stupid and gullible like most young and early teens. Te’o is in his early 20’s, still generally stupid and ignorant to the world, but should at least have the wherewithal to comprehend that you never really date someone until you have met them. Again, talking as a early 20’s person not a 14 year old teen.
If he did know then he has led one of the most shameful disturbing senior seasons in college football history. Te’o is a man who comes from a religious background, who is suppose to exemplify a higher standard of player. A honest religious moral high ground that Notre Dame consistently states it has. No one was hurt, but then again neither was anyone during the Ohio State tattoo gate, but with that Terrell Pryor and Dan Herron were essentially called selfish monsters simply because they traded things that were technically theirs for a few tattoos. That is simple bartering.
Te’o if he knew, is worse than that. He used a false dead girlfriend to propel himself into the national Heisman talk. All you ever heard about was how Te’o and Notre Dame were fighting so hard against adversity and how Te’o was doing this for his dead girlfriend. Anyone that went against the grain or questioned the legitimacy of it (until yesterday) was cut off of twitter, shamed, yelled at and put down. The problem here is that Te’o has made his senior season and let’s be honest, Notre Dame’s season, more looked at because of this dead girlfriend story. Am I using circumstance to explain this to a degree? Yes, but how can I not? We’re talking about a linebacker who came in 2nd in the Heisman race.
In the end, no one was hurt, no harm was caused, but integrity has taken a seat. We have to deal with either the truth that Te’o is dumber than the entire cast of Jersey Shore or that he is a despicable person who figured using a dead girlfriend story would prop him into the national talks. Who really lost here? Journalism and media. How many news outlets and journalists ran stories on this? From CBS to FOX to ESPN and all the in between, the Te’o dead girlfriend story was taken head on. It was pushed ahead because Notre Dame is one of the most followed and storied colleges in the NCAA. Te’o either showed sad idiocy or fooled an entire country to which I would commend him on the greatest trolling in American history.
It showed us more than anything that journalistic integrity is at an all time low. That most journalists don’t check their source information or do something simple like double checking or even cross referencing information or pictures. Deadspin did all of this and honestly it is one of many stories off of Gawker media that show why I respect them as an organization. The major media outlets, ESPN included, showed ignorance of the truth and showed how they just take stories and don’t really check anything. Te’o either way, didn’t cause any technical pain or anything, but what has happened regardless, is a punch in the gut of journalism. Investigative journalism has been dying, but this story alone, has shown how piss poor it is truly gotten. Thank you to Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey, for showing that the world has a few good and investigative minds left.