By Jerry Walls
The Manti Te’o saga is one of the most extraordinary stories I have ever heard, and as a proud graduate of Notre Dame and a heavily invested fan of the Fighting Irish, I make no pretense to be an objective observer. As new details continue to be disclosed, I WANT Manti to be vindicated, I WANT the evidence to come out in his favor. Even if he is not without some degree of fault in the matter, (and it seems clear he is not), I hope I can honestly retain a positive view of one of the most popular players in Notre Dame history, and the winner of several post season awards.
Now many people, including me, have wondered how he could possibly have fallen so hard for so long for a hoax, first reported by “Deadspin,” that in retrospect, involves a number of rather implausible details. Interestingly, however, one of those who have come to Te’o’s defense is the maker of the documentary film “Catfish” and the TV show by the same name that explores cases of people who have been hooked by internet romances that turned out to be fraudulent. As the author of this film and show explained, Te’o fell for it largely because he WANTED it to be true. And anyone who has seen the clips of Te’o talking about “Lennay” before the hoax was exposed can easily see this. Manti wears his heart on his sleeve, both on and off the field, and it is hard to deny that his feelings for “her” were intensely real.