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NFL should be concerned about “catfishing”

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At best for Manti Te’o, he was embarrassingly naive.  Other athletes could be similarly gullible.

And the NFL should be concerned about that as the Te’o case unfolds.  If Te’o’s version is accurate, any NFL player could fall victim to the phenomenon known as “catfishing,” in which fictitious online identities are created for the purposes of establishing relationships under false pretenses.

As explained by Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick on Wednesday night, the perpetrators of the hoax against Te’o seemed to be motivated only by sport.  But what if the motive, when it comes to pro athletes, is financial?  These players can easily become targets for folks who would try to prey on their sudden influx of significant amounts of cash.

Then there’s the possibility that someone could use a false identity to get close to a player in order to discover information about the player or his team.  The injury report is cursory; what better way for a gambler to find out who’s really injured and who isn’t than to pretend to be in a relationship with a player who won’t realize that he’s providing injury information on which bets will be based?

Far-fetched?  Sure.  But not as outlandish as what we’ve already heard about the “catfishing” phenomenon in the past 30 hours.

So the NFL should learn as much as it can about the phenomenon, educates players about it, and try to find out whether any players on any teams are currently being victimized by such hoaxes.

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54 Responses to “NFL should be concerned about “catfishing””
  1. noring4youstill says: Jan 17, 2013 10:55 PM

    If you’re stupid enough to fall for this you deserve it.

  2. mazblast says: Jan 17, 2013 10:55 PM

    What player would admit to being that stupid?

  3. tonymission says: Jan 17, 2013 10:56 PM

    NFL players usually want to have sex, and that requires meeting the person. Non-issue with 99.9999% of young men with high testosterone.

  4. gator2006 says: Jan 17, 2013 10:57 PM

    Ever think you’d write this article, Florio?

  5. dekubetus says: Jan 17, 2013 10:58 PM

    I can’t believe you’re even considering giving this guy a pass.

  6. anonymouslyanonymouscommentor says: Jan 17, 2013 10:59 PM

    This is ridiculous. This wasn’t some random person, it was his friend. No one does this to a friend just for fun. Why go through all that? It makes no sense. Then there is the perfectly plausible scenario, where they conspired to put him in the Heisman race and get a lot more money.

  7. Mr. Wright 212 says: Jan 17, 2013 11:01 PM

    What can they do about it? Add it to the bullet points in the rookie symposium and move forward.

  8. souldogdave says: Jan 17, 2013 11:01 PM

    The fact that an ex-NFL player said he’d met her… Damage control? CYA? Stupid kid regardless, would pass on that alone.

  9. tbd3 says: Jan 17, 2013 11:01 PM

    Something tells me that professional athletes, who can pretty much get a girl any time they want, aren’t going to be falling for ones they have never actually met.

  10. borisbulldog says: Jan 17, 2013 11:05 PM

    Leave it to Notre Lame to keep making news after the season is over!

  11. chattanola says: Jan 17, 2013 11:05 PM

    Caveat emptor.

    If you’re old enough to be paid millions of dollars to play ball and be a star, you’d better be old enough to handle your business.

  12. mjkelly77 says: Jan 17, 2013 11:10 PM

    So the NFL should learn as much as it can about the phenomenon, educates players about it, and try to find out whether any players on any teams are currently being victimized by such hoaxes.

    Are the players juveniles or are they grown men? Maybe you’re insinuating that they are, on average, lesser intelligent or less mature than ordinary people? They all make a lot of money. Let them hire personal managers to mentor and advise them of the foibles of life.

  13. thegregwitul says: Jan 17, 2013 11:21 PM

    Stop it already, Manti knew what was up. Read the interviews, follow the ‘facts’, this was either established to provide publicity to Manti during the race to the Heisman (and subsequently became too large to contain) or was put into place to shield any suspicion of what team Te’o is really playing for, allegedly. Not that there is anything wrong with that (outside of the creation of the deceased fictitious girlfriend).

  14. nyyjetsknicks says: Jan 17, 2013 11:28 PM

    Te’o’s next big story will be about how he lost $25k trying to get money from a Nigieran man who only needed the $25k for fees to get the $10,000,000 that was left to him.

  15. Deb says: Jan 17, 2013 11:29 PM

    Absolutely, any player could find himself in this predicament. Any player who–according to Te’o’s dad–locks eyes with a nonexistent woman at a football game. Any player who–as Te’o told SI–becomes close friends with a nonexistent woman for three years before their romance blossoms. Any player who–as Te’o told reporters–loves a girl for her beauty even though the girl in the photo never locked eyes with him at a football game three years earlier. Any player who–as Te’o’s dad told reporters–routinely meets a nonexistent girl in Hawaii. Any player looking for a long-running non-contact relationship.

    Yeah … I’ll buy that.

  16. gbditka says: Jan 17, 2013 11:29 PM

    Thought you had to be smart to attend Notre Dame? Just hoping Manti Te’o wasn’t pursuing a bachelors degree in Marketing as his self-promotion final project just landed him a failing grade.

  17. jonevans83 says: Jan 17, 2013 11:32 PM

    If having an imaginary girlfriend is a crime, then half the internet is guilty.

    People need to use the 30,000 foot rule… step back and actually realize that you are completely sucked up in some school yard nonsense. haha seriously, buck up people.

  18. thejuddstir says: Jan 17, 2013 11:32 PM

    If Florio is starting to believe that Te’o was the victim of a hoax, then Florio is a victim of “catfishing” himself.

  19. jonevans83 says: Jan 17, 2013 11:33 PM

    Last time I checked the Heisman trophy is voted on field talents, not off the field as you are using as justification to attack the kid. If it is voted on… foroff the field trouble then I guess it’s a worthless award.

    Why do you care so much either way? Oh because someone is going to make more money than you eventually and you want to bring him down. Very simple.

    Case Closed =)

  20. dannythebisforbeast says: Jan 17, 2013 11:42 PM

    To cover up the fact that he’s gay?
    Not that there’s anything wrong with that

  21. fordmandalay says: Jan 17, 2013 11:44 PM

    Only the very gullible actually believe Manti Te’o was that gullible. Maybe they’re the ones who need protection.

  22. huskerguy says: Jan 17, 2013 11:45 PM

    I love sports as much as the next gut but this cat fishing had been a rising issue over the years… Try staying away from sports and mainstream media once in awhile and this wouldn’t be such a surprise.

  23. ceezorg says: Jan 17, 2013 11:48 PM

    Dear sir, a Nigerian prince emailed me today and informed me that his rich son Absalom died a week ago in South Africa and has left a grand fortune of 1,304,976,551 ZAR ($163.63 million USD). He cannot claim the entire sum himself because of his noble status in a foreign country, and the government will take the fortune for itself soon….

  24. bills4 says: Jan 17, 2013 11:49 PM

    Are we honestly thinking this guys story is legit. It has more holes in it than a cheesehead!

  25. finsrule2222 says: Jan 17, 2013 11:55 PM

    i’m in college now and if you give me the platform and recognition of Te’o I would need to be tested for STD’s bi-weekly. The dude is either gay or is seriously lacking in testosterone.

  26. raysfan1 says: Jan 17, 2013 11:57 PM

    I’m not giving the guy a pass/buying what he’s selling, nor am I passing judgment…yet. There is just not enough information right now. For those who say that, if this is true, then he must be stupid…well I worked in a very large organization, and our IT department would sometimes run fake phishing exercises to then use the results to target training needs–to help maintain the organization’s computer security–and caught people every time. Catfishing is obviously more complex; however, there are pretty sophisticated con artists out there. They prey on the naive and unsuspecting. Naïveté and gullibility do not automatically mean the person is also stupid.

  27. thegreatgabbert says: Jan 18, 2013 12:03 AM

    Like this Russian girl I befriended on the internet. Looked gorgeous in the photo, but when she arrived using the ticket I bought for her, she looked exactly like that fish in the picture.

  28. firstroyal says: Jan 18, 2013 12:05 AM

    At the NFL level is a non-issue. After signing a NFL mulit-million dollar contract these guys get a super-secret, simple, three word password that enables them to establish a relationship instantly at the smallest whiff of a desire.

    I will share it with you.

    “Do you wanna?”

  29. jc327 says: Jan 18, 2013 12:10 AM

    There’s also the possibilty the dude was lying.

  30. pgilbert15303 says: Jan 18, 2013 12:11 AM

    Catfish mu hiney… We have another case of Mike Piazza syndrome. I promise you, you’ll be buying the book.

    “Arron Rogers, the loved to sack him, but loved his sack even more” god, I can see it now….

  31. thegreatgabbert says: Jan 18, 2013 12:14 AM

    I think they call it “Catfishing” because that is usually what the girls look like when you finally do meet them.

  32. tfbuckfutter says: Jan 18, 2013 12:17 AM

    The NFL should also accompany it’s players to bars and intervene if the player in question has beer goggles for what will no doubt end up being a regrettable skeezer.

  33. dtlb58 says: Jan 18, 2013 12:32 AM

    You are right Mike. But you know what? They have the NFL rookie symposium every year for stuff like this. They bring in former players and coaches that they think the rookies might look up to and at the end of the day, they are still having players fall asleep in this meeting and or saying that they are day dreaming and not even paying attention to all the scamming and financial advise they are being giving.
    Some guys just gotta learn the hard way.
    Also, at some point you gotta remember these guys are adults. At least 21 years old, they gotta be responsible for their own actions and stop blaming others. (Agents, NFL).

  34. greyhawk9 says: Jan 18, 2013 12:40 AM

    This is no case of catfishing…this is just ND trying to create reasonable doubt regarding Teo’s guilt.

  35. upperdecker19 says: Jan 18, 2013 12:45 AM

    But the EHarmony 29 points of compatibility is foolproof!

  36. mackcarrington says: Jan 18, 2013 12:45 AM

    I’m a really hot chick who looks a lot better than Miss Alabama. Send me $12,000 dollars and I’ll be YOUR girlfriend. Oh, and be sure you don’t tell your wife. Let’s just keep this between us!

  37. Slackmo says: Jan 18, 2013 12:50 AM

    Everyone knows there are no girls on the Internet chatz.

  38. yourmomcalled says: Jan 18, 2013 12:52 AM

    There is no dame in Notre Dame.

  39. richiesaurus310 says: Jan 18, 2013 1:12 AM

    Mantis is an idiot, and kind of a wierdo if you ask me…

  40. teaspoon1731 says: Jan 18, 2013 1:20 AM

    “No one does this to a friend just for fun. Why go through all that? It makes no sense.”

    Sadly, you’re dangerously out of touch with the bored youth of America if you think this a) doesn’t happen and b) no one would do this to a friend (sure there’s the emotional burden of lost relationship, but also great publicity). Creating false accounts and establishing these kinds of relationships is a big part of cyberbullying

    I’m not saying Te’o is innocent. Merely that this stuff does actually happen more often then you would think. Kids these days *shakes fist

  41. xtb3 says: Jan 18, 2013 1:29 AM

    And I thought it meant going fishing for real fishes with real cats as bait.

  42. Distinguished Male says: Jan 18, 2013 1:31 AM

    No to everything about this post. Just, no.

  43. hatasgonnahate says: Jan 18, 2013 1:34 AM

    No.. Just no…

  44. brohamma says: Jan 18, 2013 2:13 AM

    I’m glad to see you writing about this subject Florio. To many people, see previous comments, are quick to point the finger at this guy and fire-away with insults and accusations.

    Educating players is the way forward. It’s hard to imagine how devastating a hoax like this can be, though we read about suicidal endings in situations like this to frequently.. albeit to victims who are not so well-known as Te’o.

    The guy was “bullied,” and likely fed-into the hoax, because the embarassement of being so naive was to great to admit to.

  45. sfm073 says: Jan 18, 2013 5:31 AM

    I understand this happening to some lonely guy that can’t talk to a woman. But we’re talking about big muscular football players worthy millions of dollars.

  46. ham1 says: Jan 18, 2013 5:59 AM

    ESPN Reporting, In bed with BCS=BS reporting.
    They only reported half the story when they knew more. Trying to protect their precious relations w the BCS.

  47. ispysomething7 says: Jan 18, 2013 6:26 AM

    This is ridiculous. This wasn’t some random person, it was his friend. No one does this to a friend just for fun. Why go through all that? It makes no sense. Then there is the perfectly plausible scenario, where they conspired to put him in the Heisman race and get a lot more money.


    and BINGO was his name-o

  48. gavriloprincip33 says: Jan 18, 2013 7:07 AM

    “If Te’o’s version is accurate..”


    Of course it isn’t accurate; he is lying through his teeth and we know this because there isn’t a single picture of him with “Lenny”…

  49. 8man says: Jan 18, 2013 7:09 AM

    It is not possible to “date” someone you’ve never met, let alone be “in love with”. This is more an indictment of how freakish our society has become because of the misuse of social media.

    What these people do when they “sleep” with their “significant other”? Get in bed and plop the laptop on the pillow next to them?

  50. rtant2013 says: Jan 18, 2013 8:21 AM

    I’ve been watching all the sports networks, First Take, Mike and Mike, Colin Cowherd, Larry King and they’re all saying i may just be old but I could never fall in love with someone I’ve never met. Well guys I’m a 22 yr old college student (same age as Te’o) and I could absolutely never fall in love with someone on line. Hell I haven’t even fell in love with girls I’ve actually been with. I don’t get it, are these people just that moronic and gullible that they never check anything about what someone they don’t know is telling them. If Teo is actually telling the truth, only thing he had to do was check if someone went to Stanford by that name and boom whole situation avoided. So in my opinion if anyone is that ignorant to fall for a pretty pic then they deserve what they get.

  51. moneey31 says: Jan 18, 2013 8:28 AM

    Guys, I know it sounds far fetched but this really happens. hell, I was catfished myself before, though I didn’t know it had a name. Simply put, I tried dating online and met a beautiful female and we talked everyday and night on the phone for about 3 months. When the time came to meet, she never showed up where we where supposed to meet. She did this to me three times before I finally realized it was just a sick game being played. These people are cruel and apparently have no life in order to spend countless hours faking to like someone.This happened to me while I was a senior in college and I was an All. American, though at a smaller school…IT CAN HAPPEN!

  52. pinion8ted says: Jan 18, 2013 8:35 AM

    I have no doubt Te’o was in this hoax all along.


    Nobody is that stupid, and there’s too many holes in this story.

    ND got caught in this guy’s lies, and is trying to spin it themselves.

  53. greyhawk9 says: Jan 18, 2013 10:18 AM

    thanks mike

  54. greyhawk9 says: Jan 18, 2013 10:38 AM

    spin doctor

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