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Te'o mentioned 'girlfriend' twice recently

By Tom Coyne

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:58 p.m. HST, Jan 17, 2013

SOUTH BEND, Ind. » Not once but twice after he supposedly discovered his online girlfriend of three years never even existed, Notre Dame All-American linebacker Manti Te’o perpetuated the heartbreaking story about her death.

An Associated Press review of news coverage found that the Heisman Trophy runner-up talked about his doomed love in a Web interview on Dec. 8 and again in a newspaper interview published Dec. 11. He and the university said Wednesday that he learned on Dec. 6 that it was all a hoax, that not only wasn’t she dead, she wasn’t real. 

On Thursday, a day after Te’o’s inspiring, playing-through-heartache story was exposed as a bizarre lie, Te’o and Notre Dame faced questions from sports writers and fans about whether he really was duped, as he claimed, or whether he and the university were complicit in the hoax and misled the public, perhaps to improve his chances of winning the Heisman.

Yahoo sports columnist Dan Wetzel said the case has “left everyone wondering whether this was really the case of a naive football player done wrong by friends or a fabrication that has yet to play to its conclusion.”

Gregg Doyel, national columnist for CBSSports.com, was more direct.

“Nothing about this story has been comprehensible, or logical, and that extends to what happens next,” he wrote. “I cannot comprehend Manti Te’o saying anything that could make me believe he was a victim.”

On Wednesday, Te’o and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the player was drawn into a virtual romance with a woman who used the phony name Lennay Kekua, and was fooled into believing she died of leukemia in September. They said his only contact with the woman was via the Internet and telephone.

Te’o also lost his grandmother — for real — the same day his girlfriend supposedly died, and his role in leading Notre Dame to its best season in decades endeared him to fans and put him at the center of college football’s biggest feel-good story of the year.

Relying on information provided by Te’o’s family members, the South Bend Tribune reported in October that Te’o and Kekua first met, in person, in 2009, and that the two had also gotten together in Hawaii, where Te’o grew up.

Sports Illustrated posted a previously unpublished transcript of a one-on-one interview with Te’o from Sept. 23, during which he went into great detail about his relationship with Kekua and her physical ailments. He also mentioned meeting her for the first time after a game in California. 

“We met just, ummmm, just she knew my cousin. And kind of saw me there so. Just kind of regular,” he told SI. 

Among the outstanding questions Thursday: Why didn’t Te’o ever clarify the nature of his relationship as the story took on a life of its own?

Te’o’s agent, Tom Condon, said the athlete had no plans to make any public statements Thursday in Bradenton, Fla., where he has been training with other NFL hopefuls at the IMG Academy.

Notre Dame said Te’o found out that Kekua was not a real person through a phone call he received at an awards ceremony in Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 6. He told Notre Dame coaches about the situation on Dec. 26.

The AP’s media review turned up two instances during that gap when the football star mentioned Kekua in public.

Te’o was in New York for the Heisman presentation on Dec. 8 and, during an interview before the ceremony that ran on the WSBT.com, the website for a South Bend TV station, Te’o said: “I mean, I don’t like cancer at all. I lost both my grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer. So I’ve really tried to go to children’s hospitals and see, you know, children.”

In a column that first ran in The Los Angeles Times, on Dec. 10, Te’o recounted why he played a few days after he found out Kekua died in September, and the day she was supposedly buried.

“She made me promise, when it happened, that I would stay and play,” he said on Dec. 9 while attending a ceremony in Newport Beach, Calif., for the Lott Impact Awards.

On Wednesday, Swarbrick said Notre Dame did not go public with its findings sooner because it expected the Te’o family to come forward first. But Deadspin.com broke the story Wednesday.

Reporters were turned away Thursday at the main gate of IMG’s sprawling, secure complex. Te’o remained on the grounds, said a person familiar with situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because neither Te’o nor IMG authorized the release of the information.

“This whole thing is so nutsy that I believe it only could have happened at Notre Dame, where mythology trumps common sense on a daily basis. ... Given the choice between reality and fiction, Notre Dame always will choose fiction,” sports writer Rick Telander said in the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Which brings me to what I believe is the real reason Te’o and apparently his father, at least went along with this scheme: the Heisman Trophy.

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass blasted both Te’o and Notre Dame.

“When your girlfriend dying of leukemia after suffering a car crash tells you she loves you, even if it might help you win the Heisman Trophy, you check it out,” he said.

He said the university’s failure to call a news conference and go public sooner means “Notre Dame is complicit in the lie.”

“The school fell in love with the Te’o girlfriend myth,” he wrote.


AP Sports Writers Ralph Russo and Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.


I loved Te'o, hoaxer tells Dr. Phil

Kelly doesn't know if hoax affected Teo's play

Dr. Phil to interview alleged girlfriend hoaxer Tuiasosopo

Te’o sheds more light

Face of Te'o's girlfriend says hoaxster confessed

Notre Dame president defends handling of Te'o

Voice of Te’o prankster? Couric plays voicemails

As debate raged at ESPN, Te’o story slipped away

'What would you do' Te'o tells Couric

Woman in Te'o fake girlfriend photo speaks out

NFL teams get their turn at Te'o

Records link California home and Te'o case

Alleged mastermind of Te'o hoax may tell his story

Te'o to be interviewed by Katie Couric

Te'o regrets tainting name

Records link California home and Te'o case

Te'o provides answers, but more may be asked

'There is no way I could be a part of this'

Te'o not alone in claiming online wishful thinking

EXCLUSIVE: Woman tried new hoax in December call to Te'o

Te'o denies being part of dead girlfriend hoax

Alleged architect of Manti Te'o dead girlfriend hoax reportedly confesses

Man admitted duping Te'o, woman tells ESPN

Notre Dame to Te'o: Time to speak up

'Catfish' jumps to prominence amid murky Te'o hoax

Residents rally around hometown hero

History of a hoax

With Te'o silent, questions about hoax mount

Te'o spoke of girlfriend after hoax revelation

Damaging silence

Manziel shocked by Te'o girlfriend hoax

Draft guru: Te'o's stock took hit before hoax

Te'o mentioned 'girlfriend' twice recently

Timeline of Te'o quotes in girlfriend hoax story

Te'o interview 'scrapped'

Laie backs Te'o after girlfriend hoax

Te'o could drop in NFL draft after girlfriend hoax, expert says

Fundraiser 'shell-shocked' by Te'o girlfriend hoax

Ex-Cardinal fullback says he met Te'o's girlfriend

Football star's dead girlfriend an online hoax

At this point, who really knows what to believe?

The naive get reeled in when 'catfish' nibble online

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anykineguy wrote:
I think da buggah is one mahu and wen make up da story so he neva look like one mahu.
on January 17,2013 | 12:34PM
ThinkOutLoud wrote:
that's exactly what my boss said!
on January 17,2013 | 01:36PM
allie wrote:
on January 17,2013 | 02:03PM
KelleeMalia wrote:
I concur.
on January 17,2013 | 03:04PM
aomohoa wrote:
Maybe, but who cares:)
on January 17,2013 | 06:26PM
Rickyboy wrote:
Say it ain't true man.
on January 17,2013 | 12:37PM
allie wrote:
Nice to see this phony exposed. He may have been duped but highly unlikely. He created or at least furthered the host for his own selfish reasons. Only question is how much did Notre Dame know of this bad character's hoax and why did they conceal it?
on January 17,2013 | 12:37PM
aomohoa wrote:
Yikes to you HON! SO nasty.
on January 17,2013 | 06:27PM
allie wrote:
Giooid article and glad to see Notre Dame exposed for what ti is: a very bad academic school and a dishonest, scandal-plagued football factory. I pray we never go that route at the UH. We are better than that.
on January 17,2013 | 12:40PM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
I wanted to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, and believe that he was truly in fact duped and only found out very recently. But after this, hearing that he continued to refer to the nonexistent girlfriend even after knowing she was not real, how can you?
on January 17,2013 | 12:45PM
Hanalei13 wrote:
The reports state that he discovered that this whole thing was a hoax on December 26, not December 6. I, like you and everyone else, don't know the truth but I'd say we should all hold on until everything shakes out. After all, it has only been a day!
on January 17,2013 | 01:39PM
Hanalei13 wrote:
"However, Notre Dame officials said Wednesday that they became aware of the hoax on Dec. 26, nearly two weeks before the championship game. University spokesman Dennis Brown didn't immediately respond to a request seeking comment today." http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/breaking/20130117_Fundraiser_shellshocked_by_Teo_girlfriend_hoax.html?id=187351341
on January 17,2013 | 01:50PM
lowtone123 wrote:
Notre Dame said Te'o found out that Kekau was not a real person through a phone call he received at an awards ceremony in Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 6. He told Notre Dame coaches about the situation on Dec. 26.
on January 17,2013 | 01:53PM
allie wrote:
Yup..big cover up
on January 17,2013 | 02:04PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Did not need to say anything to anyone at anytime.
on January 17,2013 | 02:24PM
HOSSANA wrote:
Manti Teo lied. Go back to his public statements in October and his father's interview also in October and you will know that Manti deliberately misled and purposedly lied about the love story....nothing more and nothing less. I am sorry for making these comments as I really liked Manti but when you carefully scrutinize his story and the chain of events, there can only be one conclusion: HE LIED!
on January 17,2013 | 12:51PM
allie wrote:
you got it!
on January 17,2013 | 02:04PM
oxtail01 wrote:
Another phoney baloney who hides behind religion to hide the perverse insides!
on January 17,2013 | 12:56PM
aomohoa wrote:
Aren't we a bit judgmental? I bit homophobic?
on January 17,2013 | 06:28PM
kennie1933 wrote:
I have to admit to being duped. I remember after it all started happening, the announcement of the deaths, Manti's playing in the Michigan State game a couple of days later (and played well), seeing all the ND fans decked out in lei (albeit plastic ones) to honor him, I thought to myself, WOW, what a great guy! Even up until the Heisman award ceremony, I felt he should have won it because...look at all he went through! Manziel did some crimes, but Teo is such a stand up guy! Hmmm...I'd vote for Collin Klein now.
on January 17,2013 | 01:03PM
copperwire9 wrote:
Perhaps he perpetuated the myth of the double tragedy to increase sympathy and, at the same time, increase his chances for a 'sympathy' Heisman?
on January 17,2013 | 08:02PM
punahou808 wrote:
I'll wait for the whole story to play out before I judge. However, with that said, at the moment it doesn't look good for Manti and ND. But Punahou's still all G!
on January 17,2013 | 01:04PM
Dawg wrote:
Now Punahou you are smarter then the typical ND student aren't you? Don't drink the Kool-Aid to long.
on January 17,2013 | 05:23PM
IAmSane wrote:

Probably should have drank more Kool-Aid.
on January 17,2013 | 09:00PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
"A day after Te'o's inspiring, playing-through-heartache story was exposed as a bizarre lie, Te'o and Notre Dame faced questions from sports writers and fans about whether he really was duped, as he claimed, or whether he and the university were complicit in the hoax and misled the public, perhaps to improve his chances of winning the Heisman."

"Nothing about this story has been comprehensible, or logical, and that extends to what happens next," he wrote. "I cannot comprehend Manti Te'o saying anything that could make me believe he was a victim."

Throughout the dating life of any person, there will be positives and negatives. Unfortunately for Manti, he is a nationally known hero, so all of this news coverage diminishes his character. It would have been preferable if he simply said "I made a mistake".

on January 17,2013 | 01:07PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
I predict that Manti Te'o will not come forward at this time because his agent and attorney have advised him to not speak with the media. If anything, he wants to get through the NFL drafting process first and then get drafted before speaking. He does not want this whole event that has backfired on him to get any worse than it already is. If anything, it has already failed to garner him the Heisman Trophy so it's purpose has already passed. He did receive many votes from the media who have spoken of his situation with the grief of losing his "girlfriend". But it fell short of actually getting him the trophy. Indicative of his nature, he bilittled the award in true sourgrape nature by stating that if he was aked a hundered times if he would choose the Heisman Trophy over a national title, he said he would choose the national title a hundred times. What Manti Te'o created has come back to haunt him as it will affect his draft status. Many professional teams will consider his deceit and that is on top of the fact that he was torched by an Alabama defense of which he has never encountered before he garnered all his accolades. Shame on you, Manti Te'o. The more you hide the more your credibility goes down which is already down the tube. I feel like many others here and the media who bought your story hook line and sinker just so that you can drum up support for your campaign to win the Heisman Trophy. Fortunately, at the end of the day the right man won the trophy. Many like myself are disappointed as you were the ambassador for Hawaii in the college ranks and eventually in the professional ranks. Now, I hope that I dont' hear about you because it will only open old wounds.
on January 17,2013 | 01:15PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Please explain the screen name "no daddy not the belt", besides the obvious. See even u would not want to answer that question. Same with Manti: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, taste no evil, feel no evil. Manti really possibly cost his team the National Championship by revealing his secret to Notre Dame just two weeks before the big game, as no one can be at 110% efficiency with a burden on their minds.
on January 17,2013 | 02:30PM
Mythman wrote:
The Mythman knows what is fake and what is real. How many of you are ready to ask this basic question about EVERYTHING in media, especially in BS Hawaii, where the FAKE is KING
on January 17,2013 | 01:18PM
kailua1044 wrote:
you post anony,ously as "myth"man and you are calling out bs and fake? mirror mirror...
on January 17,2013 | 01:42PM
Mythman wrote:
A lie well told o'er and o'er soon turneth into a MYTH - and who starts it out on its path? Answer this and you will know too the difference between Reality and Fantasy - ALL Myths are a fantasy designed to manipulate you and me for some purpose other than what our Self and our Freedom would otherwise guide us to, un-manipulated.
on January 17,2013 | 04:39PM
aomohoa wrote:
Interesting but weird and out there:)
on January 17,2013 | 06:31PM
Hanalei13 wrote:
I'm conflicted in between deciding if you have a witty sense of humor and a unique form of satire or if you skipped out on your meds today. Leaning towards the latter but hey, who knows the truth these days!!!
on January 17,2013 | 01:48PM
BTO wrote:
4:20 pm EST Jan 17, 2013 Deadspin Editor Timothy Burke says Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is behind the online profile for Lennay Kekua... And claims he's known Manti Teo for years. Deadspin says Tuiasosopo's friends and family talked to them about this fake profile. “They told us that he has been doing the Lennay Kekua fake online profile for several years and that he's caught other people in its trap, but that they caught on way earlier than Manti Te'o did,” said Burke. “In fact, the longest I think that he ever got away with pretending to have an online relationship with somebody was about a month. So you sort of question, especially when you consider that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo knew Manti Te'o, that they spent time together, that there are pictures of them together supposedly on his Instagram account. You know, how dense would manti te'o have to be to not realize this was his friend who was behind the account the entire time?”
on January 17,2013 | 01:36PM
Parkeiki wrote:
Way to go Punahou!
on January 17,2013 | 01:39PM
ThinkOutLoud wrote:
It sounded odd from the beginning. With all of the beautiful young ladies at Punahou School, Laie, and Notre Dame why would a star football player have an internet romance instead. He must have played the sympathy card to be a stand out in the football awards, Heisman etc. NFL better find out if he already has brain trauma because this story is crazy!
on January 17,2013 | 01:41PM
lowtone123 wrote:
Manti is probably being told by his agent to keep quiet for now till they can come up with a plan for damage control but if he is only guilty of being duped and naive then he should speak asap. By waiting he invites others coming out of the woodwork coming up with lies to further smear his reputation.
on January 17,2013 | 01:57PM
Akhmed_PKC wrote:
may be now he will go on his mission and show everyone that the game and money dont mean anything. he will be successful in whatever he chooses to do.
on January 17,2013 | 02:02PM
kaulanakala wrote:
Fat chance he will go on a two yr. church mission...he should've gone after his Freshman year like he SAID he would...but NOooo he stayed to play...and big deal when when he came back his Senior yr to play...all that hype etc...bunch of BS ..the Teo family is smeared in all kind of ways...he best speak up sooner than later...
on January 17,2013 | 02:15PM
Dawg wrote:
I don't think the mission would tolerate a person of questionable character like Manti. Everyone talks about shaming ND but what about Punahou and his family in Kahuku. How stupid does he think we are, really he played the locals good. Forever even President Obama will be bear the shame of being from Hawaii because of this selfish fool. he really should relocate ASAP! He is not local. He is to stupid to lie. Maybe they should check him for concussion injuries - to his ego.
on January 17,2013 | 04:28PM
walaau808 wrote:
All you hypocrites! Like you've never lied before! Manti is a young man and will make mistakes just like the rest of us. Of course we still don't know the truth, and to some extent we may never know the truth, but so what? If your lives are so perfect than good for you. Judge not, lest ye be judged! Cut the man some slack, and move on with your pathetic lives.
on January 17,2013 | 02:03PM
mrluke wrote:
We don't know yet that he did lie. But if he did, it was not just a little mistake as you put it. It was a huge lie, to the national sports fans and media. Possibly done for personal gain, to increase his market value.
on January 17,2013 | 02:46PM
Nalukai wrote:
C'mon, you're kidding right !!
on January 17,2013 | 02:58PM
aomohoa wrote:
The fans turn quickly, don't they walaau808?
on January 17,2013 | 06:33PM
Bayman wrote:
i didnt even know he had a gf to be honest...and really at the end of the day notre dame sucks...and thats all that matters right?
on January 17,2013 | 02:16PM
da808 wrote:
Talk about bowled over! Auwe Papa Te'o!!!! You blast the paper over a picturte when you knew about this over a month ago? I have been the hugest of huge Manti fans and supporter, but you people gave the state of Hawaii and your cultist religion a serious black eye!
on January 17,2013 | 03:32PM
Dawg wrote:
Evidently even at Punahou he was winky and couldn't get along with the women - time to ask Punahou. Hopefully we will not get a ND goal line stand response.
on January 17,2013 | 05:17PM
akuman808 wrote:
There are things you can contol and there are things you can't. Manti could have controlled this but now it's spun out of control, it's controlling him and the ticking of the clock means the damage is done and no damage control measures will mitigate this unbelievable dark side to a otherwise brilliant athletic career. The answer to the question Why? is overshadowed by the reality that the truth will always prevail. Hawaii and the nation is bracing for the facts and truth. Unfortunately we know it's not going to be good.
on January 17,2013 | 03:50PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Let the countdown to the Teo confession begin. I say 6 days.
on January 17,2013 | 04:17PM
Dawg wrote:
That he is Gay?
on January 17,2013 | 05:15PM
false wrote:
IF he is gay, then big deal. Just come clean this whole thing is ABSURD. IF he is lying HE will LOSE all his CREDIBILITY.
on January 17,2013 | 04:24PM
jyorck wrote:
He didn't need to lie. He is going to make choke money. He is a Punahou grad!
on January 17,2013 | 04:27PM
PCWarrior wrote:
Anybody that thinks this kid ain't lying thru his teeth is just a chump. Face it people, our boy is bogus.
on January 17,2013 | 04:32PM
Dawg wrote:
You know he does have trimmed eyebrows and enjoys grabbing other guys butts. Maybe Mahu after all. Definately a stupid fool! hahahaha!
on January 17,2013 | 04:33PM
maya wrote:
I sort of recall the Star Advertiser doing a series calling him a hero of Hawaii, or something like that. It reminds me of the slavish devotion to Obama exhibited by the Hawaii press. Quit being so small town- Hawaii press, and actually do some investigation before you slobber praise on someone.
on January 17,2013 | 05:15PM
Wardog wrote:
It's ok Manti, I get plenty fake girlfriends too...
on January 17,2013 | 06:04PM
tiki886 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on January 17,2013 | 06:11PM
Wardog wrote:
Like the ones u ooof??
on January 17,2013 | 06:50PM
IAmSane wrote:
Your hand is not your girlfriend.
on January 17,2013 | 09:05PM
Wardog wrote:
Neither is your mom...
on January 18,2013 | 06:03AM
nomakeshame wrote:
I am just waiting to see the apology letter from his parents for duping the sports world and having the nerve to call out the Advertiser on a true statement. The picture of Manti getting "bowled over" takes on a new meaning, doesn't it?
on January 17,2013 | 06:05PM
kainalu wrote:
Teo's dad has expressed some angst with the SA and a photo they've printed with Manti getting "bowled over". Imagine what he thinks of SA now. Somebody better watch their back, eh?
on January 17,2013 | 06:10PM
ponowai wrote:
Don't believe everything you read/hear. Just because a writer/reporter says something, it doesn't make it true. I can see Allie believing everything, she even imagines reading but Im really disappointed that the Hawaii people would turn on Manti.
on January 17,2013 | 06:37PM
Nalukai wrote:
Glad, he's not the first loser from ye'old 'buff' n' blu'.
on January 17,2013 | 06:37PM
Beaglebagels wrote:
What's the big deal? I have had thousands of imaginary girlfriends!
on January 17,2013 | 06:58PM
rainbowfan wrote:
Too much emphasis on some athletes being superhuman that can do no wrong.
on January 17,2013 | 07:31PM
Aquarius1 wrote:
Recruiting Team to Manti Te'o: "Your virtual check is in the virtual bank."
on January 17,2013 | 08:10PM
aomohoa wrote:
The problem with fans is that they turn on sports celebrities in a heart beat. One second they are heroes and the next second they act like they are traitors. How about trying to remember they are human and not perfect. None of us are. Some people are acting like he killed someone in a DUI.
on January 17,2013 | 08:32PM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
Geez, what's the big deal. So he lied about a girl. No one hurt. What about college coaches who lie? Coaches who say, "I'm not going anywhere" then next thing you know they abandon ship and coach somewhere else. Most recent example, Chip Kelly. They outright lie and hurt a lot of college kids.
on January 17,2013 | 08:44PM
st1d wrote:
the crying game all over.
on January 17,2013 | 09:14PM
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