The statement issued by Notre Dame regarding the fictitious dead girlfriend of linebacker Manti Te’o paints the Heisman Trophy runner-up as the victim of a hoax.
Not surprisingly, the statement from Te’o makes that same claim.
“This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online,” Te’o said in a statement released to PFT and other outlets. “We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her.
“To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.
“It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother’s death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life.
“I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been.
“In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was.
“Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I’m looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft.”
His preparation for the draft will include facing plenty of questions from scouts and coaches and General Managers and the media regarding the details of the situation. There are simply too many accounts of in-person contact between Te’o and his fictitious girlfriend to ignore the possibility that Te’o has staked out the safest harbor in a raging storm.
Indeed, if he were involved in any way in perpetrating the hoax (which the Deadspin story exposing the hoax strongly implies), it would be natural and fairly obvious to now claim that he was the victim.
If we’ve learned anything this week after the Lance Armstrong confession, it’s that everyone is capable of telling some pretty incredible lies, even those who can accomplish some pretty incredible things athletically.