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In aftermath of the revelation that the story about Manti Te’o’s girlfriend dying of leukemia was a hoax, there are reports out of Notre Dame that players and student were always leery of Lennay Kekua.A Deadspin report yesterday revealed that Kekua never existed, and was a fabrication in an elaborate hoax. Now some people in South Bend say they smelled something fishy all along.
According to Keith Arnold of NBC Sports, Te’o’s teammates were sceptical that they never met her, but didn’t say anything because he was such a force in the locker room.
“From the start, teammates were sceptical about Te’o’s relationship with a girl they had never met. Yet with a leader like Te’o, a guy that was so very clearly cut from a different cloth, it was difficult to challenge a teammate that had always walked around with a conviction and belief system so very different than most 21-year-olds. And if that meant a long-distance, heart-tugging relationship for Te’o that only existed during late-night phone calls and Twitter exchanges, then teammates were quick to shrug their shoulders at a boyfriend-girlfriend dynamic that was just as unusual as their once-in-a-generation teammate.”
If we’re reading between the lines, his teammates were sceptical of the “dynamic,” not the existence of Kekua altogether.
This sentiment is echoed by Notre Dame student Tyler Moorehead, who wrote a post for College Spun claiming that students and players privately didn’t buy that Kekua was Te’o’s girlfriend.
It was an open secret on campus Te’o “had relations with other girls,” according to Moorehead.
Here’s the most damning part of his post (emphasis ours):
“The debate among teammates wasn’t whether or not Manti actually knew this girl — it was clear that they had been in contact; no, players just didn’t think that it was fair to call Lennay Kekua Manti’s girlfriend, period (it is well-known on campus that he has had relations with other girls during his time at Notre Dame). They recognised what was going on for what it was — a terrible publicity stunt used to fuel Manti Te’o’s Heisman campaign. In fact, many of the players privately commented that they didn’t want the students to wear leis in support of Manti and wouldn’t participate themselves — they cited that the team never responded so publicly to tragic events for other players. But there was also the feeling that Manti didn’t deserve to benefit from public publicity from the death of somebody he barely knew.”
Obviously hindsight is 20/20, and no one at Notre Dame is claiming that they thought the existence of Kekua was a hoax.
Other Notre Dame players are saying the same thing:
NEW DEVELOPMENT – Former ND teammate tells ESPN’s Bob Holtzman that many players knew Lennay Kekua wasn’t really Manti Te’o’s girlfriend.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 17, 2013
But there were certainly red flags. They just weren’t big enough to act on until now.
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