With linebacker Manti Te’o avoiding the media, others are filling the vacuum of silence.
One of them is Te’o’s uncle. Alema Te’o joined 97.5 The Zone in Salt Lake City on Thursday to discuss the situation for more than 30 minutes. And it quickly became clear that the Te’o family blames the hoax entirely on Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the alleged mastermind of the fake dead girlfriend (and failed contestant on The Voice).
Alema Te’o believes that the plan was so elaborate that Tuiasosopo actually had a girl pretend to be Lennay Kekua and periodically meet with Manti. “I wouldn’t put it past this guy to do that,” Alema Te’o said.
Manti’s uncle also explained that he had immediate suspicions about Tuiasosopo after meeting him during the 2012 football season, based on false claims Tuiasosopo made of involvement in Troy Polamalu’s football camp. Alema Te’o specifically suspects that Tuiasosopo’s motivation was financial, apparently via raising funds for cancer-stricken folks who, you know, don’t exist.
The interview is long and at times a little hard to follow, but it’s clear after listening to the whole thing that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is the target of the Te’o family’s scorn at this point, and that Alema Te’o specifically believes that Tuiasosopo was a “shady character” who was hoping to “get close to Manti for either money or notoriety.”
“His big deal was raising money. So I can’t help but think that this guy wanted to get close to Manti to help him get money,” Alema Te’o said.
If that’s the case, then it’s entirely possible that laws were broken. Which would give the authorities at least a reason to investigate the situation in order to find out whether Tuiasosopo or anyone else was involved in this hoax in the hopes of raising money under false pretenses.
Meanwhile, there’s still no indication that Manti Te’o will be addressing the situation, even though Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick painted Te’o into a corner on Wednesday by saying that Te’o would be telling his story as soon as Thursday. The longer Te’o stays silent, the more people will suspect that he had a role in the hoax.
Then again, there’s also a chance that by opening his mouth he will remove all doubt.