The e-mail read, in part: I know you guys get thousands of tips that are “out there” or crazy. Most of the stories, including those in having interviewed Te’o, detailed the moment young love had first bloomed, on November 28, 2009, after a tough road loss at Stanford: “Their stares got pleasantly tangled, then Manti Te’o extended his hand to the stranger with a warm smile and soulful eyes.” a writer named Pete Thamel reported that, as Lennay lay dying in a hospital, Te’o routinely spent all night comforting her by phone from Indiana: “Her relatives told him that at her lowest points, as she fought to emerge from a coma, her breathing rate would increase at the sound of his voice.”Increasingly, a couple of things jumped out at Burke.
For starters, news accounts rarely agreed on even the most basic details pertaining to Lennay’s life and death: the date of her accident, the location of her funeral.
That afternoon, ESPN’s on-air news ticker shrank the story to a headline: DEADSPIN REPORTS: 80 PERCENT CHANCE TE’O INVOLVED IN HOAX. And, really, these are merely the two headliners in a period of widespread corruption wrought by the various moneyed forces—boosters, coaches, universities, media—who together compose the College Football Industrial Complex.
The ticker failed to mention that the claim was based on speculation by an unnamed source who proved to be wrong. The Penn State scandal, being a textbook case of how not to handle an internal problem, also marked a sea change in the way both schools and players dealt with impending crises.
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Obviously, there was no starry-eyed meeting in Palo Alto.On January 16, Deadspin published the story, whose headline said it all: MANTI TE’O’S DEAD GIRLFRIEND, THE MOST HEARTBREAKING AND INSPIRATIONAL STORY OF THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON, IS A HOAX.The article correctly pinned blame on a 22-year-old enigma named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a former high-school quarterback born and raised just north of Los Angeles.Since its founding, in 2005, the Web site Deadspin has been the hockey goon of the sports-media world. The story floating around the island is this: Manti was [duped] by a man online pretending to be this girl, Lennay Kekua.Foulmouthed and down-and-dirty, it goes straight at all the phonies, narcissists, and boneheads who inhabit the dark universe of big-time jock-dom, although its worst vituperation is reserved for the practitioners of “traditional” sports journalism, whom it views as corrupt, lazy, and slavish. While Manti Teo is a loved native son here in Hawaii he is also a fraud. Once Manti found out he had been tricked he made up the story that she died in order to ensure that no one asked questions and he never looked foolish.By the 2000s, coaches of A-list teams—Alabama, Louisiana State University, U. The figure would have been significantly higher but for the precipitous drop-offs in revenue at U. Also, Te’o told them, he strongly suspected that perhaps the girlfriend was neither dead nor alive, except in someone’s imagination. At this point, according to Manti, he was as confused as they were.