The story of Manti Te'o and his girlfriend passing away during the college football season grew into one of those Hallmark moment stories that seemed to get mentioned any time someone with a microphone was talking about the star Notre Dame linebacker and Heisman Trophy runner-up.
In easily one of the most insane pieces of sports journalism you'll ever come across, the professional muckrakers at Deadspin are claiming it's all bullshit. (Needless to say, Deadspin is now blacklisted.)
Seriously, it's one of the more jaw-dropping articles I've ever read. Don't miss it.
If Deadspin is wrong on this one, woe be unto them. If not... Well, to be a fly on the wall during Te'o's interviews with NFL teams before the upcoming NFL draft.
UPDATE: Notre Dame has issued a statement on the story:
On Dec. 26, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te’o and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia. The University immediately initiated an investigation to assist Manti and his family in discovering the motive for and nature of this hoax. While the proper authorities will continue to investigate this troubling matter, this appears to be, at a minimum, a sad and very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators.
So we're all clear, ND is claiming that Te'o was snookered by someone he claimed as his girlfriend who we now know didn't exist.
(Oh, and ND has known about this for three weeks.)
UPDATE: Te'o has released a statement
"This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her.
"To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.
"It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life.
"I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been.
"In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was.
"Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I'm looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft."
Below is a video of Te'o speaking about the loss of his girlfriend.
UPDATE: Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick held a press conference to discuss the school's involvement in this, um, "fiasco," I guess. It was a meandering mess. (ND has graciously provided a transcript.)
Then, some dude who plays for the Arizona Cardinals came out of the woodwork to tell ESPN that he supposedly met the fictitious Lennay Kekua.
At this point, any effort to make sense of this entire thing is pointless. My main question as of now: If Te'o had no role in perpetrating any of this, why is Swarbrick talking about it before him?