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Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o. (Associated Press)

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o. (Associated Press)

Gazzolo: Legend of Te’o is fool's gold

Last Modified: Thursday, January 17, 2013 4:04 PM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

It was the biggest story of the college football season, and we all bought into it.

That makes us all either romantic fools of giant saps.

Or maybe just romantic saps.

You can make your own judgement now, even though all the facts are not in and may never be known to the general public.

One thing is for sure, Notre Dame is all in.

The school put its reputation on the line Wednesday night when it came to the defense of its most recent football legend, Manti Te’o.

The university that gave us the Four Horsemen, the Gipper and even Rudy now has brought us the legend of Manti.

History has called into question just what the Gipper said on his deathbed, and the Rudy story was, well over the top. Hollywood will do that.

But this Te’o thing is off the charts. One thing is for sure, Notre Dame either believes or has to believe its guy.

The rest of us just wanted to believe.

Irish officials gave themselves no wiggle room as they responded to the story that Te’o’s dead girlfriend never existed. This despite several people saying they met her and even some saying they saw her on campus, one of them being a priest.

This might be the greatest hoax since Orson Welles proclaimed to the world that Martians had landed outside New York City in 1938. Back then people were willing to fling themselves out of windows before being captured by the invading aliens.

At least nobody got killed in this hoax, or at least nobody who was ever alive.

The story tugged at our hearts when we first heard how Te’o’s long-time love, Lennay Kekua, died of leukemia just six hours after his grandmother passed away and he still he went on to play a game against Michigan State.

We bought into the tale hook, line and sinker.

Maybe that makes us all romantic saps, or giant fools.

The web site gave us all the big buzz kill when it reported Wednesday that the entire story was a hoax.

Te'o had reportedly told Notre Dame officials the day after Christmas that this was a fact when he got a phone call from the dead girl’s number and the voice he believed was hers proclaimed she was alive.

If this was truly a call from the great beyond it would have made the story that much better.

This is not the first time the public has been duped. Sports Illustrated did an entire piece on a made-up pitcher for the Mets named Sidd Finch back in the spring of 1986. They did it on April 1st, making fools on all who believe.

That seemed harmless and funny at the time, and the magazine was quick to come out with the fact the story was made up. Nobody, not even Yankee fans, threw themselves out of windows over a great pitcher going to the Mets.

What makes this different is one big thing — Te’o.

If he knew, and it is hard to believe he didn’t, then he did all this for publicity. Strange considering he was already the biggest name on the most covered college football team in the land. And he has been doing this hoax for three years or so.

Planning a Heisman Trophy run as a sophomore seems like a long reach for a motive.

If he is the victim, well, I just feel sorry for the young man.

Either way, NFL teams will find out the truth long before they turn over millions of dollars to the first-round pick. So we will know all the facts one day.

Notre Dame claims they know it already, having hired an investigative firm to look into the facts.

Their athletic director stood before the world and told us all they did their homework and they believe in their linebacker. Jack Swarbrick even broke down during his defense of Te’o. Hard to believe he or the school would be in on the hoax.

However, they may not want to play the part of giant fools either.

Maybe I would say I was convinced had I not seen this act before.

I recall Penn State doing the same thing in telling the world it knew nothing of Jerry Sandusky’s crimes and at first defending Joe Paterno’s actions, or lack of action.

And let’s not forget Lance Armstrong’s tour de farce and his years of denial about using performance-enhancing drugs while capturing seven Tour de France races. Even Oprah can’t save him now.

Then there is Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. Their words seem hollow in the face of evidence and common sense.

Yet there were the Irish, standing by their man.

Maybe they are right. Maybe Te’o was just a victim, fooled by folks who found their big fish and reeled him in, gobbling up the rest of us in the net.


Thinking of him as a big dupe still makes for a nice ending.

But if we believe that, maybe we are just giant saps and romantic fools.

That sure sounds better than the other option.


Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at

Posted By: butch On: 1/18/2013

Title: Johnny Manziel is the REal Deal and has a Real girlfriend

Johnny Manziel is the real deal and did not get the media hype that Manti the Liar did.................Johnny football has a real girlfriend and this should teach everyone a lesson not to trust the media because they lie lie lie

Posted By: Neil On: 1/18/2013

Title: only fools fell for the notre dame media hype fraud

Manti is just another media creation.......anyone that knows football and watched college football could easily see that he was being hyped up and it was all the news media and sports media hyping this guy up and hyping notre dame up.....Notre dame played a weak schedule and barely won several games...........but the media kept on pushing this guy for Heisman as he kept placing himself in front of cameras while he did NOTHING spectacular on the field..........He is another Media creation.............Guess where we have another media creation...........In the White House

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