Friday, January 25, 2013

The Crying Game 2: Te'o Truths

Well, it's not quite official, but we are close to getting there...

Manti Te'o was in love with a dude.

Dil could help Manti get through all this.
Or, at least he was in love with a dude pretending to be a girl.

You think that might come up in an NFL locker room? Or be shouted across the field? From the stands?

This is reality. Te'o's going to line up showing blitz, and one of those 340 pound offensive lineman is going to look at him, and start talking in a girl's voice.

Gonna happen. Probably on the first play. And it's going to happen for a long, long time.

I've watched a bunch of clips of the Couric interview and listened to the voicemails on CNN. And I'll say - I'm waffling on some of this. I started out thinking that Te'o was no doubt involved in the hoax. It was just too crazy with too many inconsistencies for him not to know.

There was the "is he gay?" thought process. Which you could at least explain away (and possibly still can) and map out as a plausible reason for compliance of this story/coverup.


I'm now firmly on the side of him being just really, really dumb.

The line that keeps coming back to me is when he was asked by Schaap why he never went to visit Lennay when she was in the car wreck, in the hospital with leukemia, or just "at all" - Te'o said it "didn't occur to him". That is still just a little hard to swallow.

That, along with his (what comes across to me as) aloofness to this situation, it gives me the impression that the kid just isn't too smart.

Whether or not this qualifies for a blanket "liar" label, I don't know. I think that Te'o is, however, a big time misleader - if that's a word.

I don't think he was as "in love" with Lennay as he claims to have been. I think this deep devotion to his "girlfriend" was intensified by Te'o after the news of her death on September 12th and the storyline that developed.

Te'o described the scene when he found out that she died - there were coaches around and he was visibly upset, smashing a trash can, etc. But I kind of contribute that to the "now what?" phenomenon - he was just a few hours off of his grandmother's death, and maybe his reaction was more of an extension of his grief & anger from his grandmother's death.

You know how it goes from there - everyone plays 'telephone'. Word gets out that poor Manti's grandmother and his friend died on the same day. This is turned into his girlfriend. Then a girlfriend he was deeply in love with. This spreads to the press, and the next thing Manti knows, he's getting questioned about how he is handling the death of his deeply involved-with girlfriend. Manti doesn't deflect or correct, and the snowball rolls.

On a basic level, perhaps Manti just saw this as a potential hook-up for down the line. A mysterious internet-(and phone)-only woman that if he ever ran into her, he could probably score with. I don't think this is necessarily uncommon. Seriously, go to a hot girl's Facebook page - how many comments does she get for her posts? The answer is a lot more than the not-as-attractive-girls get. Truth - there are a lot of Internet creeper dudes just hoping for any opportunity to get the pretty girl's attention.

Manti had this girl's attention, and if it comes through for him, great. This is probably why he put up with getting stood up in Hawaii or why he allowed for the excuses as to why she could never meet up. (If that indeed is what happened.)

Where this theory leaks a little water is in the sheer volume of contact. 500 hours of phone calls? What the hell? How do you manage that on either end?

What was the end game?

If Te'o wasn't in on it, and there was never any money exchanged or extortion attempt - Tuiasosopo wanted a relationship with Manti Te'o. The two in some way knew each other before Te'o and Lennay became "more than friends". Deadspin revealed that Te'o and Tuiasosopo were interacting via Twitter. (Te'o had promoted/retweeted a music video of Tuiasosopo's in December of 2011 - months before the 'relationship' began.)

I would like to see more being made of this. Where and how did Tuiasosopo and Te'o meet or get acquainted? Were they interactive exclusively via social media? Did Tuiasosopo get connected to Te'o via the Lennay connection? (Which was actually Tuiasosopo... confusing, isn't it?)

While Te'o is pulling more people and media into the "I'm a victim" camp - there are still a lot of gaps to fill. I do think he's a pretty dull bulb, which may actually work to his favor. He's been so inconsistent with this story, and because he doesn't do a necessarily good job of covering his tracks or explaining his actions - it actually makes it harder to deduce.

I've said for a long time that "you can't predict crazy, so don't even try". Same kind of situation here. If you try to make sense of all this, you're going to have to make some leaps - because you don't know what's real and what isn't.

And I guess we'll keep on leaping.

Twitter. Do it. @harry_long