The Curious Case of Manti Te’o

Notre Dame Linebacker Manti Te’o (Sports Illustrated)

I can see where my grandmother is coming from when she says she doesn’t understand the world we live in. Truth be told, I recognize it less all the time. And I took a big step backwards on Wednesday when Deadspin broke the bizarre story of Manti Te’o.

I have sent virtual invitations, attended a virtual meeting, even interacted with a virtual assistant. But a virtual girlfriend? For three years? Come on. Yet that is exactly what the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy says he engaged in. A virtual relationship with a woman who died of leukemia…or in a car accident (maybe on the way to leukemia treatment? I’m still not clear) only she never existed in the first place.

I will not even pretend to understand how this could happen. Apparently, there is a movie about this called Catfish (which spawned a TV show). I may have to watch it now.

The only thing that was clear was that the woman, Lennay Kekua, never existed. That is, until Reagan Mauia, an ex player for the Arizona Cardinals, came out to ESPN with his version of “I had her before he had her.”

“This was before her and Manti. I don’t think Manti was even in the picture, but she and I became good friends. We would talk off and on, just checking up on each other kind of thing. I am close to her family. When she was going through the loss of her father, I was — I offered a comforting shoulder and just someone to bounce her emotions off.”

-Former Cardinals Fullback Reagan Mauia

Wait, guys…we are talking about a fictitious woman here, correct? Because…I’m confused.

Here’s what I do know…as the world continues to change around us, one thing has not. Anybody can be anything they want to be online. So may we all learn something from the death of Manti Te’o’s virtual girlfriend.

You don’t have to be perfect. But you do have to be real.

Rest in peace, Lennay Kekua.



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