A (Te’o) of Lies

Caught in a web: Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o has been publicly outed about a fake dead girlfriend. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman
Caught in a web: Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o has been publicly outed about a fake dead girlfriend. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman
Caught in a web: Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o has been publicly outed about a fake dead girlfriend. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman

The lies keep coming. Fabrication is now a practiced art. The manipulation of the truth has become about as routine as someone going to do their laundry. Lying and deceiving the public seems to have become a trend in sports these days. No, I take that back.  It has become the norm. One day, it’s the constant lying about alleged steroid use by professional baseball players.

Another day, the lying effect becomes a deep-rooted issue in Lance Armstrong’s world where the professional cyclist built up a mountain of alleged deceitful practices to gain an edge over his peers as he cycled his way to seven Tour de France wins. The judgment resulting from Armstrong’s path of lies is those seven Tour de France titles being stripped away, the cancelation of endorsement deals and the destruction of the cancer survivor’s once-esteemed reputation.

It’s not a pretty sight, but Armstrong made his bed of trickery and conniving to get to where wanted to go. So now he has to lie in the bed of wrath coming from public opinion and the risk of being ostracized from the sport he loves.

They say the cover up is always worst than the crime. That would the bill with college football powers Penn State and Ohio State, universal powers rocked in subsequent years by scandals underlined by the art of lying and deception. In Penn State’s case, it meant seeing school and football icon Joe Paterno and his legendary accomplishments being forever tarnished. It meant former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky getting prison time for molesting young boys while those representing the university allegedly looked the other way.

Former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel basically lost job of trying to cover up NCAA violations committed by some of his top players. Former Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino took his transgressions a step further when he initially withheld information about an alleged affair with a former student-athlete at the school, whom he hired for a position.

USC tailback Silas Redd escapes a tackle from Notre Dame's Manti Te'o.Photo: J. Gaede
USC tailback Silas Redd escapes a tackle from Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o.Photo: J. Gaede

Only a bumbled motorcycle crash with the married Petrino and the former Arkansas volleyball player riding together, cast light on what was really going on. Petrino wounded up losing his job because of the false front he was perpetuating to his bosses-not necessarily about his involvement with the young woman, but legally because he added this young lady to the university’s payroll.

The spin cycle comes from just about everywhere in sports, even at the high school level. According to a recent USA Today article, a high-profile high school football recruit allegedly made up the fact that he took a recruiting trip to Notre Dame, which he didn’t. There is the matter of the governing body of  college athletics-the NCAA finding out that it improperly was in on something shady in regards to its own investigation into the University of Miami football program.

Then we have the matter of a college student-athlete being allegedly duped by an online hoax about a dead girlfriend he never met before he decides to sprinkle in some white lies about his situation just so he can go along with the program of fooling people. Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te’o was one one of the best college football players in the country this past season, even leading the Irish to the BCS National Championship game against Alabama.

That’s not the story. The story here is the embellishment of the truth by Te’o who helped fueled the lies when he found out the alleged truth that he got duped. Being embarrassed and humiliated is one thing. But then to go out continue to defraud the media and the public about the fabricated existence of his make-believe girlfriend is not cool. It is flat-out wrong. It makes me think that Te’o had some part in this thing from the beginning.

It also has me wondering how did all of these Notre Dame beat writers and major news outlets reported this story without any kind of vetting and simple fact-checking that are part of the basic guide to journalism? Since this has been a national story from last fall, professional incompetence would be an accurate description to how this story was reported.  If this story was reported right from the beginning, we wouldn’t be going through all of this now.

Instead, the media got suckered into a Hollywood-made story and stuck to the script.

Te’o’s fake girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, supposedly died from leukemia on Sept. 12, 2012, the same day his grandmother passed away. Te’o never met his invisible lover, even when she was supposedly dying. On Dec. 6, Te’o received a phone call from the now-alive Kekua. Two days later, Te’o sat in front of the country at the Heisman Trophy presentation, still speaking to the media about Kekua as if he didn’t know anything had happened.

It has been one lie after another, right on up till the national championship game had passed before the story broke about the falsehood of Te’o’s imaginary girlfriend.  Now that the truth is coming out about this whole mess, we discover that the voice behind Te’o’s love is both a man and a woman. More lies are coming forth. In the days to come, there may not be any more lies to dish out about this story, but I would not be surprised.

Once you begin to lie, you have to come up with another lie to cover the first one up. And then the snowball effect comes into play. It’s one lie after another lie after another lie. Pretty soon you have an episode of calamity judgment upon your head because of all those lies have joined together in unison to masquerade the truth. For Te’o’s sake, let’s hope the truth about this whole situation is somewhere lurking around the corner.

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1399 Articles
Dennis is a news and sports photojournalist. Dennis has covered and written on issues such as civil rights, education, politics, and social justice. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Daily Breeze, Daily Press, Los Angeles Wave, Los Angeles Sentinel, and other media outlets. Dennis is currently the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and NCAA. Dennis is an alum and graduate of Howard University.