Joe Bittner, ’Doah Staff Writer
February 6, 2013
Notre Dame football has been legendary for decades, known for success and long-lasting tradition. Players battle day in and day out, through practices in harsh weather, under severe scrutiny from coaches who expect nothing less than championship caliber execution.
This type of expectation turns boys into men, preparing them for their lives beyond football when they form families and become members of society. However, one young man’s personal life was recently publicly criticized and Notre Dame could not do anything about it.
Manti Te’o is a senior linebacker for the Fighting Irish and was the runner-up for the Heisman trophy in 2012, an award given to the best player in college football. He is the emotional leader of the football team, on and off the field. In early September of this past season, his grandmother passed away. Less than 24 hours later, his girlfriend Lennay Kekua lost her battle with leukemia and died also. Or at least, that’s what we were told.
For such an inspiring member of the Fighting Irish football team, these deaths took a toll on the young man. His teammates and family rallied around him and supported him. But was this pain necessary for the young man to go through?
As it turns out, Te’o’s girlfriend was a hoax. He had been deceived for years by a “girl,” whom he had never met in person. It was a long-distance relationship that Te’o was extremely faithful to. But was Kekua faithful in return? The answer is simple: no.
That’s because Kekua was not real at all. As ABC writer Matt Gutman reports, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo made up Kekua using the pictures and face of Diane O’Meara. Tuiasosopo, another man and a woman allegedly worked together to play the role of Kekua and made Te’o fall in love with “her.”
Now this is where things get interesting — upon finding out that Kekua was not real, Te’o proceeded to refer to “her” as his girlfriend to the public, for days after. When the story broke, the nation jumped all over him, calling him a liar and a degenerate. But in reality, isn’t he the victim?
He endured unimaginable pain at the loss of his grandmother. That pain was intensified when he lost the “girl” he thought he was in love with. He used this pain and anguish to motivate himself to lead his team through a hard time, and into the National Championship game.
But then, his world came crashing down when he found out that Kekua was not real after all.
He mourned the losses of these women he loved. Why would a person purposely lie and cause himself so much pain? He did not want any sort of public attention to the fact that someone had made him look and feel like a fool. Something he had felt so passionate about was ripped out of him and stepped on — a person doesn’t do that to himself just for kicks.
The media has taken an innocent victim and turned him into a liar and a manipulative, attention-seeking fiend.
Why should someone go through so much torture and ridicule, and receive such a negative reputation over something he had no control over?
If you believe that he is what the media portrays him to be, stop and think about how you would want to be treated if this happened.
Would you want people to believe you made everything up and forced yourself to endure that pain? Or would you want people to know, and understand, that you had suffered due to something that was not your fault?