Bonkers: Tragic story of Notre Dame linebacker's dead girlfriend appears to be ... a giant hoax; Update: Te'o issues statement

Normally I’d stick a non-political link in Headlines or the Greenroom but odds are good that this is the most gripping, mind-bending post you’ll read on the Internet this year. You don’t have to know or like college football to follow it. If it were a movie, it’d be “Vertigo,” not “Rudy.”

I’m not even going to excerpt it. Just read it, and pay attention to the timeline of Te’o’s relationship with “Kekua” near the beginning. There’s no way he wasn’t in on it, right? Who else could the details of the relationship have come from? If they didn’t really meet after a game at Stanford, why didn’t Te’o correct the media reports? No one’s this gullible.

Update: Assuming the timestamp here is accurate, the gears were turning online more than a month ago at least. No national reporters got tipped about this before now? Even though Te’o was a star and Notre Dame — Notre Dame — was ranked number one?

Update: Here’s more from the South Bend Tribune article in October mentioned by Deadspin:

Kekua, who eventually graduated from Stanford, was, in fact, doing so well that she was released from the hospital on Sept. 10. And Brian Te’o was among those congratulating her via telephone.

Less than 48 hours later, at 4 a.m. Hawaii time, Kekua sent a text to Brian and Ottilia, expressing her condolences over the passing of Ottilia’s mom, Annette Santiago, just hours before.

Brian awakened three hours later, saw the text, and sent one back. There was no response. A couple of hours later, Manti called his parents, his heart in pieces.

Lennay Kekua had died.

Three possibilities: Te’o duped his father too; Te’o’s father was also in on it; Te’o himself was somehow duped — for three years.

Update: The only way this story could get more surreal is if this statement from Notre Dame is true:

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.

Update: So the accusation is that Te’o made up a story about a dead girlfriend to generate sympathy and interest and the defense is that he was actually the victim of a vicious years-long Internet hoax, thereby generating … sympathy and interest?

Update: Here’s a way for Google wizards to test Te’o’s credibility. When was the very first mention of his relationship with Kekua? They allegedly met after a game in 2009, although it’s not clear that that info came from Te’o himself; it’s hard for me to believe that he’d run a scam for three whole years with an eye to a heartbreaking, tragic death just months before his big senior Hesiman push. If he really was in on it and made up the whole thing for sympathy, it’s more likely that he only first started talking about in 2012. If he was talking about it even before then, back in, say, 2010, then maybe he … really was duped? Really?

Update: C’mon.

“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.”

Remember, according to Te’o’s own father, “Kekua” visited him in Hawaii. Go listen to this interview with Te’o himself and you’ll hear him talking about chatting with “Kekua” on the phone. Either he’s in on it or the guy whom Deadspin names as the likely hoaxer had a woman accomplice — for weeks or months or years — which makes this even less likely.