By TED SILLANPAA
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was never any more to me or my Irish football-loving sons than a really good college football player. We didn’t find that his legend grew when he played on after his grandmother and girlfriend died during the past season because … athletes aren’t legends, they don’t do legendary things off the field.
We just choose to enjoy the games and how the players play them.
I couldn’t care less if Te’o had a girlfriend or whether he was part of a hoax that now indicates that he … er … I don’t even know what the media coverage about the Te’o story involving a girlfriend who didn’t exist is about. I don’t want to know. He’s a football player. If he makes tackles and doesn’t break the rules, on or off the field, I’m fine with him.
But, boy, are lots of the rest of us into the dirt and detail of Te’o's story about the girlfriend who didn’t exist. He’s a football player who prominent sports journalist Michael Wilbon said Thursday, “struck me as very simple … almost childlike” during an interview weeks back.
You can’t believe that somebody could fool a college kid on the level Te’o appears to have been fooled? It’s easier to understand if you consider that Te’o struck a noted journalist as ”simple” and “almost childlike.” Wilbon leaves the gossip and shenanigans so many of you love to the web sites that make money sensationalizing stories we really shouldn’t care about at all.
If you read about Te’o, this girlfriend dying and thought, “Oh, what a hero! He’s amazing!” then you deserve to be shattered and confused. Te’o was a Notre Dame football player. Nothing more. You chose to lionize him for playing on after he, allegedly, lost loved ones. That’s your problem. Don’t make heroes of people who just happen to be really good at playing games.
If you can’t believe that this girlfriend who died story turned out to be part of a hoax, you’ve got no understanding of online dating, social networking or what today’s college kids are doing. There are lots of people who will tell you they’re in relationships with people they’ve never seen or only rarely see. And, they’ve all got friends who will come out of the trees to tell tales to members of the media about their friends’ relationship that they’ll assure you they’re 80 percent sure are true.
I don’t care about Te’o, how the girlfriend story came to pass or whether or not he did or didn’t play a role in convincing you that he was more a hero for playing on after … oh, never mind!
If you feel like a college football player let you down, that’s your problem. If you don’t know that people shade the truth, lie and get duped every day, all day … you’re not very bright.
Manti Te’o was just a college football player. Putting him in position where his private life is your concern is your problem.
I’ll be interested in Manti Te’o again when NFL summer camps open.