Sunday, January 27, 2013
My Sunday Feeling
Just when you think that you have heard everything, something comes along to prove you wrong. By now everyone has heard the story of Lennay Kekua, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's non-existent dead girlfriend. The one who allegedly died on the same day that his grandmother did, thereby providing him with the inspiration to give his all for the Fighting Irish who finished undefeated in the regular season. Which earned them the right to get annihilated by Alabama.
Both Manti and the brass at ND knew that he was the subject of an elaborate and exceedingly cruel hoax prior to the Alabama debacle. Manti knew about it on December 6, prior to the Heisman Trophy presentation ceremony. Notre Dame was informed of the hoax on December 26. But nobody said anything about it until Deadspin.com broke the story on January 14th. Then all hell broke loose.
There isn't an aspect of this story that is not completely baffling. Why would somebody perpetrate such an elaborate con job that apparently was not extortionate in any respect? How does one have a relationship with someone by phone and Internet and yet never meet them? How could a big man on campus like Manti not have other female friends? Maybe he does, but I haven't heard of any. Indeed, it is remarkable how little you are hearing from anybody in South Bend about any of this. Even creepier, we now know that the person providing the voice of Lennay was occasionally a man speaking in falsetto.
I am a tenor. Practically an alto. I don't think I could convincingly impersonate a woman's voice if I wanted to. Secondly, I like to think that I could discern between 2 different speaking voices with relative ease. He really couldn't tell them apart?
I really don't have a clue. Out of uniform, Manti certainly comes across as extremely naive. But my God. I was young and naive once. I can't imagine getting sucked into something as bizarre as this. ESPN's Scott Van Pelt has opined that maybe the young man "just isn't good with girls" as some guys aren't that he preferred a long distance relationship. There have been hints that maybe Manti is gay and that Lennay was a convenient "beard" while he was in the spotlight in the uber-macho world of sports. Who knows?
Here's what I think. I think he stuck to the story even though he knew by December 6 that Lennay was no more real than Wonder Woman because it had become bigger than him. Perhaps he was afraid to confess that he had been played for a fool, or a rube as he was referred to by Smoking Gun, while he was still in the running for the Heisman and while his team had at least a theoretical possibility of being crowned National Champs.
What is less understandable is why Notre Dame didn't insist that he go public as soon as it was informed of the hoax. But then again, this is Notre Dame. Where George Gipp never asked the team to win for him, Knute Rockne didn't have a sick child and the Rudy story is mostly bullshit. As Chicago sports columnist Rick Telander said about this whole mess," 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 will always choose fiction."
And maybe that's the explanation. At Notre Dame mythology trumps common sense. Which is too bad. Because young Manti Te'o could have used the intervention of someone with some common sense.
Lord knows he sure doesn't seem to have much.