Manti Te'o: A gullible victim

By Jason Martinez, Anchor/Reporter, jmartinez@Local10.com
Published On: Jan 17 2013 11:09:08 AM EST
Updated On: Jan 17 2013 05:41:09 PM EST
Manti Te'o 2

WBND

Notre Dame All-American linebacker Manti Te'o broke hearts when he told reporters his girlfriend, a 22-year-old Stanford University student, had died of leukemia within hours of his grandmother's death.

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. -

Some conspiracy theorists think they have this Manti Te’o debacle figured out.

One theory is that Te’o was trying to cover-up a homosexual lifestyle by forming this lavish lie. I don’t believe that’s what’s happening here. And if true, what would that say about the world we live in?

The other theory is that he wanted to gain from the national attention he received by dealing with “adversity.” As if being the best defensive player and the Heisman runner up wasn’t enough attention? He needed a dead girlfriend to “sell” his story?

The way I see it is Manti must’ve been a lonely kid who sought comfort in what he thought was a humble woman who inspired him. In my eyes, Te’o believed that Lennay Kekua was real. As crazy as it sounds, people fall in love online and via text every day. 

Some people think: “Why is a star football player looking for love online?” Where should a star football player look for love? In the bleachers? Sometimes the loneliest person is the one surrounded by the most people.

Stop blaming sports reporters for not catching this. I’ve reported on a million deaths in my career. Not once have I requested a death certificate or used a Nexus search. After her “death,” Manti told an ESPN reporter that Lennay Kekua’s family was asking for privacy. Should reporters have crossed that line and invaded her grieving family?

As objective as we’re supposed to be, there’s still a reasonable level of trust that reporters use.

In retrospect, it’s easy to point out that there were no photos of them together.

So all that we’re left with now is an explanation that will likely leave us shaking our heads.

“The thing I’m most sad about is… (cries) that the single most trusting human being I’ve ever met (Te’o) will never be able to trust the same again,” Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said during a news conference Wednesday.

Great, just what this world needs. More cynics and skeptics.

This catfishing has got to stop. It’s “cruelty at its core,” said Swarbrick.

But the scary part is -- there is no law broken here. Being a low-life online imposter is perfectly legal. That has to change. New legislation should be passed creating harsher penalties for idiots who prey on the gullible. And if there’s one thing to be learned here -- the gullible must wise-up and log off.

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