Ok, let's get weird.
The story of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and his non-existent girlfriend have become one of the most talked about stories in recent memory.
And, I'm left wondering... Why?
No one was killed, raped or abused. And, worst case scenario: One of the nation's most beloved, star athletes will be exposed as a fraud. Nothing new. (See: Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, etc.)
So, why has this story captured our unrelenting curiosity?
Well, we're humans. We have unique, individual thoughts and beliefs. And, we love gossip, whether we admit it or not.
And, at our subconscious level, we have a penchant for weird.
Novelty sells. There's a reason people watch Honey Boo Boo or Ducky Dynasty. We are enamored with the eccentric and uncommon.
We're used to hearing about death, violence and Tebow. Our insatiable appetite for bizarre stories is unrelenting. The Te'o hoax story is our Thanksgiving feast.
Timeline of recent events:
- Afternoon of Jan. 16: Deadspin releases Manti Te'o report.
- Couple hours later: Te'o releases statement saying he was duped by an elaborate hoax.
- Evening of Jan. 16: Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick fully supports Te'o.
- Afternoon of Jan. 17: Sports Illustrated columnist Pete Thamel releases full transcript of Te'o interview he conducted in Sept. 2012.
- My brain explodes.
Like many of you, I'm confused and overwhelmed by the story. I'm exhausted from all the coverage it's receiving, to the point I've started watching BET instead of ESPN.
But, no matter how long I ignore the story, it creeps back in the ole noggin.
Here are my three theories:
- Te'o was 100% hoaxed. Someone posed as Lennay Kekua online and led Te'o on. However, according to Thamel's transcript, Te'o said he talked to Kekua on the phone and talked to her brother. If that's the case, the perpetrator(s) spent hours of time investing in an elaborate scheme. (Makes me think: Who has time for that?)
- Te'o found out about the hoax at some point during the season and was too embarrassed to tell the truth. If he found out after the interviews and feature stories hit the national stage, it would take a massive swallow of pride to come clean. If he found out before the national attention, he played along and duped the media. (I find this plot to be the most plausible.)
- Te'o planned or went along with the whole hoax. Either he or one of his friends (Ronaiah Tuiasosopo) initiated the scheme and manipulated the media like a puppet. (If this is the case, holy guacamole. Talk about hero to villain.)
Unfortunately, questions and theories are all we have until we hear from Te'o. Moreover, if it was a hoax, we need to hear from the perpetrators. Little surprising no one has stepped forward to receive his or her 15 minutes of fame for perpetrating the hoax.
Ok. This got weird.
To contact Jonah, send e-mail to Jonah.Javad@wgrz.com