Notre Dame golden boy Manti Te’o appeared in an emotionally-driven interview with Katie Couric today, telling her that the feelings he had for what turned out to be a fake, online girlfriend were real and reiterated he had nothing to do with the hoax.
The All-American linebacker said he was truly sorrowful and pained.
He said he sustained tall tales about his fake, dead girlfriend to keep inspiring legions Irish football fans who saw him as the ultimate triumph-over-tragedy figure.
Te’o told Katie Couric that the story of gal pal “Lennay Kekua,” who allegedly died of cancer on Sept. 12 during the Irish football season, had taken a life of its own -- so he ran with it.
“I think for me the only thing I basked in was that I had an impact on people,” he said in an interview aired today.
1. "I think" is a weak commitment
2. "for me" indicates he knows that there were other things "basked in", perhaps by others.
3. "I had an impact on people" may be attempt to justify or explain the hoax.
“That people turned to me and for inspiration and I think that was the only thing I focused on.”
Here he says that the inspiration is the "only thing" he focused upon; not that Lennay was not real, or a guy. This is how people get caught, no matter how they try to cover lies.
He added: “You know my story I felt was a guy who in times of hardship and in times of trial really held strong to his faith, held strong to his family and I felt that that was my story.”
His "story" belongs to him; it is sensitive (as seen in repetition).
Te’o led his Notre Dame football team to an undefeated regular season. His real grandmother died on Sept. 11 and Te’o said he was told Lennay died the next day.
The standout linebacker kept playing and the Irish kept winning, turning his story of double-tragedy into an inspirational narrative.
Te’o claimed he had long phone calls with Lennay and even played Couric recordings of voice mails the fake gal pal left him.
An acquaintance of his, Christian musician Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, was allegedly the mastermind of the lie.
Te’o said Tuiasosopo called to apologize last week and offered a weird explanation for the hoax.
“He just explained that he wanted to help people and that was his way of helping people, of being someone that he wasn’t, and trying to connect with somebody on a different level to help them out,” Te’o said.
“Obviously, it didn’t really help me out but uh, you know, I didn’t really say anything. I was still speechless. I just found out that everything that I believed to be my reality wasn’t actually reality at all.”
The phony gal pal called Te’o from the virtual grave on Dec. 6, revealing the huge hoax.
But in interviews after that day, Te’o kept the lie rolling.
“What would you do?” asked the 21-year-old Heisman Trophy runner-up. “I, my whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died.
“Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she’s alive, and then I’m going be put on national TV two days later” for the Heisman ceremony.
Note the present tense language
Te’o said he couldn’t just admit that “Lennay” was a scam made up by Tuiasosopo.
Te’o knew he would be asked about Lennay at the Heisman ceremony.
“You stuck to the script,” Couric said. “And you knew something was amiss, Manti.”
This is a challenge to admit that he knew, but Te'o avoids the accusation:
“Katie, put yourself in my situation,” he responded.
Te’o said that, until the December phone call, the inspirational story of how he played through the deaths of both his beloved grandmother and Lennay to lead Notre Dame to the national football championship game was legit.
“What I went through was real,” he said. “You know, the feelings, the pain, the sorrow — that was all real and that’s something that I can’t fake.”
Note the word "that" uses distancing language of a past tense event, but "I can't fake" is not "I didn't fake"; and is present tense. Follow the verb tenses.
When Couric asked if the sob story helped him land more votes in the Heisman race, Te’o said, “I don’t know. I really don’t know.”
His parents, Ottilia and Brian, insisted their son didn’t manipulate the public for his own gain.
“People can speculate about what they think he is,” a teary-eyed Brian Te’o told Couric.
“I’ve known him 21 years of his life. And he’s not a liar. He’s a kid.”
"He's a kid" may be taken as a way to dismiss his actions. "He's not a liar" his father said, even though he admitted lying to his father about Lennay.
ESPN reported yesterday that a source has provided it with documents containing Te’o’s phone logs showing that 1,000 calls were made — from May 11 to Sept. 12 of last year — to and from a person with an 661 area code believed to be “Kekua.” Of those calls, 110 lasted longer than an hour.
Meanwhile, hoaxmaster Tuiasosopo is under constant watch by family members, who fear he may be suicidal.
“I’m scared he’s going to go into a deep depression or hurt himself,” a relative told The Post yesterday. “We’re making sure a family member, especially his dad or his mom, always are keeping eyes on him.”
Tuiasosopo’s insisted that there was a reason for the twisted trick.
“There’s a whole other side to it that nobody knows about,” said the relative. “We’re trying to keep it where everybody is guessing. We don’t want everybody to know what’s going on.”