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The Manti Te'o Hoax, from the Perspective of a Football Fanatic's Wife
Shotgun Spratling / Neon Tommy / Flickr

The Manti Te'o Hoax, from the Perspective of a Football Fanatic's Wife


Jan 17 2013
After falling for it, I realized deception is nothing new.

A few months into my marriage, I was faced with the biggest and only secret my husband's ever kept from me: the man watches a lot more football than I ever imagined. Since those days, I've accepted that football will be on most weekends from August through February every year. While I can't admit to enjoying the game much more than I did seven years ago, I've learned how to share some of his passion: I simply can't get enough of the tearjerker human-interest stories.

Last season, nothing was more inspiring than the story of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o. In September, the football star lost both his grandmother and his girlfriend within 24 hours. Or at least, that's what he said.

So when Deadspin issued a scathing report this week alleging the girlfriend's death was a hoax, I – along with many other football fans (if you can call me that) — was shocked. The writers explain a web of fake Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts used as part of the fraud; yet, I still question how Te'o could logistically pull off such a lie. Worse, who in their right minds would think such public deception is acceptable?

For one, Lance Armstrong. The famous cyclist finally admitted to doping charges during a sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey airing Thursday, though he has vehemently denied the accusations for years. In the interview he admits to doping as early as the mid-1990s and discusses the massive measures taken to cover-up his cheating. Which brings me back to Manti Te'o.

On Wednesday, just hours after Deadspin released their report, Te'o was quick to reply with a public statement expressing his innocence and stating he developed an emotional online relationship with a woman who duped him into believing not only her existence, but also her cancer-related death.

While I want to give Te'o the benefit of the doubt, it's difficult to after seeing just how well another public athlete, Armstrong, was able to use his power and public relations tricks to convince us of his innocence for so long.

But I'd be remiss to not mention another reason why I'm skeptical of Te'o's denial. Unfortunately, cancer hoaxes are becoming a trend especially on sites such as Facebook. Just Google "cancer hoax," and you'll find many similar tales of people pretending they or a loved one is dying of cancer, from former Hillsong artist Michael Guglielmucci's 2008 Leukemia claims to a more recent story of Warrior Eli, a Facebook campaign raising money for a child who never actually had cancer.

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