I Just Called to Say ‘I Love You’ – The Manti Te’o Saga

Image of Stevie Wonder as Manti Te'o

Music legend Stevie Wonder depicts telephone calls between Manti Te’o and his phantom girlfriend.

Wow, what a week. President Barack Obama proposed major legislation to regulating guns, signaling one of the boldest moves in his presidency to term. We witnessed an unapologetic Lance Armstrong offer up a confession in an exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey, admitting to the world he had indeed used performance-enhancing substances throughout his career.

Yet, we have been blindsided by a story that has completely dumbfounded sports fans and regular people alike. The tale of Manti Te’o and his phantom girlfriend has inspired the imagination of an entire country and, in doing so, claimed an impressive victory in a veritable television sweeps week full of top-tier news stories.

How did he do this? The bizarre-o-meter is off the charts and is unlike anything I — and many others — have seen in my life of sports addiction.

Moreover, the story has yet to provide us with much along the line of concrete answers. It could be sliced many ways: an inside running joke carried out by Te’o, preying on the terrible journalism that we loosely call the “media” and their eagerness to run stories that tug at heartstrings of  America without doing any due diligence. It could also be a pathetic and hilariously entertaining exercise of self aggrandizement, attention-craving, or sheer delusion (I’m truly hoping for the latter).

Regardless of how this story plays out, I applaud the creativity involved on both Te’o and whomever played the role of Dying Soulmate in weaving a thread sublimely fit for the silver screen.

Most of all, it reveals just how putrid modern day American journalism truly has become. Whether or not Te’o was involved in the hoax doesn’t matter to me. The media took the story — hook, line and sinker — and puffed it up to a level so high it apparently influenced enough “respected” (I use that term as loosely as possible) sports writers to consider Te’o as a potential first-ever Heisman Trophy winner to play a defensive position.

Part of me laughs at that notion while another part of me vomits in disgust at the practice of scooping a story to either exploit our sympathy or fuel violent rage without checking any facts.

I heartily congratulate Deadspin for taking the time to investigate the claim and break the story that has swept us off our feet. The more this story is reported, the more I laugh. I hope it serves as a constant reminder to the very media that dishes Readers Digest crap in disguise as actual sporting news that they are horrible at what they do. However, arrogance and a lot of money (to the tune of several billions of dollars) can cover up any methodological blemish.

In a world where we hear the same song-and-dance about measures we need to take to prevent fiscal catastrophe in our national budget that prompts no action whatsoever; in a nation where we are ever so weary of the same fall-from-grace-to-gain-redemption tripe, this breath of fresh air has revitalized my faith in human creativity and the willingness to rise above routine dysfunction to entertain. God bless America!

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One thought on “I Just Called to Say ‘I Love You’ – The Manti Te’o Saga

  1. For me, even more dumbfounding than the Te’o story itself is the rush by Notre Dame to stand so strongly behind their man when they also, like us, clearly don’t know exactly what the heck happened or what to make of all this. They really didn’t have to say anything – at the most confirm something was sideways and they were looking into it on behalf of their student-athlete. Once the Deadspin story came out, the rush was on to get their spin going. The university didn’t seem to be in such a big hurry until then…

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