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Posted on Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 11:26 a.m.

What word would you use to describe Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's story?

By Pete Cunningham


Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, far left, was dominant in Notre Dame's 13-6 win over Michigan on September 22, 2012. That much is undeniable.

Melanie Maxwell | file photo

Have you wrapped your head around the Manti Te'o story, yet?

Neither have we.

There is one thing we know for sure about Manti Te’o: The guy was a force to be reckoned with when Michigan lost to Notre Dame 13-6 back in September. With two interceptions, three solo tackles (one for loss), five assists and one quarterback hurry on the night, Te’o’s was arguably the Irish’s most valuable player against the Wolverines in what at the time was a showdown between a pair of teams ranked in the Top 20.


Manti Te'o reacts to Notre Dame defeating Michigan 13-6, September 22, 2012.

Melanie Maxwell | file photo

The fact that he performed in such a way in the wake of personal tragedy - the death of his grandmother and girlfriend within days of each other just days before the game - made his performance not just commendable, but inspiring, regardless of who you were rooting for.

But over the past 20 hours everything we thought we knew about that uplifting backstory has been called into question if not completely blown up. A report revealed on Wednesday that Lennay Kekua, the woman Te’o claimed was his girlfriend and died of leukemia just days before the Michigan game, never existed.

After that, the story gets pretty hazy and it’s not clear who knew what, and when they knew it. The story and its multiple layers is in many ways indescribable, but if you had to pick one word to describe it, what would it be?

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.



Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 4:52 p.m.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but if the author of the poll posts his own answer to the poll 11 minutes after the article posts, isn't that going to squelch reader thinking and creativity?

buvda fray

Sat, Jan 19, 2013 : 4 a.m.



Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 10:51 p.m.

(Cat)Fishy. Looking forward to the episode on MTV


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 3:11 p.m.



Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

Media hype! Shame on the sports media for making this guy a martyr and hero before doing their homework and actually checking out the original story about her death. They are as much to blame, or more, falling all over themselves to get a good hype story on the air.

Hot Sam

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.


Geoff Krone

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.



Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.



Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 5:51 a.m.

The answer to life, the universe, and everything is 42.

Jon Mach

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 5:05 a.m.

Typical Irish Deceit!


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 3:04 a.m.

We're probably going to have to wait for the Oprah interview to get the true story.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 3:01 a.m.

So this is what happens when you drop the soap one to many times?


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 2:10 a.m.

Not the end of end of story


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 1:48 a.m.

No Te'o Dame University


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 1:12 a.m.

Liar, liar, pants on fire.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 1:07 a.m.

Lizzy Seeberg


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.


Macabre Sunset

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 9:56 p.m.

Expensive. As in the millions lost as his draft position plummets in April.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 9:47 p.m.

No matter how you cut it though....he lied through is teeth about SOMETHING. Either he's telling the truth now.....and he never really met her and lied about having met her initially (possibly to assuage his parents).... Or he's lying now.....and he DID actually meet her initially and the current story about having only ever met her online is a lie.... Or the whole thing was fabricated for whatever reason...(please don't pretend there aren't several obvious reasons for doing something like this) Ockham's Razor folks.......


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 9:42 p.m.

Mendacious He never met her, but she was his "girlfriend"?!? What on earth kind of relationship IS that? How about "cyber-pal"? Or in this case, "virtual pal". Whichever, HE is a publicity churner. Make him go away, there is much real news in the world.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 9:34 p.m.



Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 9:29 p.m.


Hi McDonnough

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

Notre Shame


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 8:46 p.m.


Ricardo Queso

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 10:27 p.m.

You win the precision award!

An Arborigine

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 8:35 p.m.


music to my ear

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 8:27 p.m.

to bad he didnt think he was enough. had to put a little gravy on the potatoes to make it taste better. now hes mush.

music to my ear

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

I also heard that his father said he met her, that she came to Hawaii so the dad was in on the lie too. If I own a team I would not want him on it.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 8:18 p.m.



Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

i think it is worse than tiger woods. he knew what was going on. just listen to some of his comments on radio or tv interviews. no way can he claim he was coned.

Pete Cunningham

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 4:25 a.m.

I'm going to disagree here and say being unfaithful to the mother of your children trumps most actions, including this one, in the "what's worse" competition.

Tim Hornton

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

Is FUBAR a word?

Tom Teague

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 9:31 p.m.

"Oh, it''s German." - Private Mellish


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

Well we are talking about ND so I go with 'unsurprising'


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:59 p.m.



Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:56 p.m.

the NotreDame linebacker made up the whole thing .. guess he doesn't have enough drama in his life


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:54 p.m.


Chris Hall

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:44 p.m.


c'mon now!

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:36 p.m.

Please don't issue this idiot a gun permit!


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:19 p.m.

2 words, Patrick Bateman

Tim Hornton

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 7:51 p.m.

HA Ha that used to me by name on here until AAnews had enough of me saying things they didn't agree with.

Kyle Austin

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:13 p.m.

"Shocking" fits for me. A Heisman finalist has a lengthy relationship with a fake person, and her fake death becomes a national storyline? Can't make that up.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:19 p.m.

Apparently one can Kyle

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

I'm cheating here by not picking a word, but this story made me think of the "exploding noema" theory.

Kyle Feldscher

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:09 p.m.

Is 'WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT' considered a word?

Bob Needham

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:05 p.m.

Cautionary. On so many different levels.


Mon, Jan 28, 2013 : 5:15 p.m.

This is a slightly "fluffy" topic, but it raises the issue: what kind of fact-checking is required by the Press? On a more serious topic, young men and women died to save us from fictitious "weapons of mass destruction". The Press serves (or should serve) a supremely important role of getting the facts to we citizens so that we can make informed decisions. I just got a phone call from the NRA that certain people are trying to outright remove the Second Amendment from the Constitution. My point being that there is a lot flying around out there, and the Press can help by getting to the truth of the matters. People can layer on their own values and opinions to those facts.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6 p.m.

The story goes well beyond weird and a lot more should come out in the days and weeks to come. Another issues is the meeting with Te'o and the ND Ath Dir in late Dec. Seems the whole issue was swept under the rug in order to protect the football program. Didn't we go through that with Joe Pa and Penn State or Tessel at ohio before that? Then there's the Lance fall from grace... The whole thing makes one more cynical these days.

Ricardo Queso

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:54 p.m.



Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 3:25 a.m.

Ding Ding! We have a winner


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:56 p.m.

Didn't occur to me, but I think you may be onto something Richard

Ben Freed

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:08 p.m.

That was my gut reaction too Ricardo.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:26 p.m.

At best, an idiot. At worst, a fraud.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:22 p.m.


Kyle Austin

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:10 p.m.

I agree with fishy. I think there's a lot we don't know yet.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:06 p.m.

Definitely Catfishy.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:10 p.m.

Drama Queen

Pete Cunningham

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

No dice, two words. Try again.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

You didnt put a column in for non story. And to compare it to Lance Armstrong is a real streach. Really what is the issue? Did he set up a foundation and raise money for the girl and move it off shore for his retirement? And I am certain the vast population of readers of Ann Arbor. Com were never scammed by anyone because you were all too smart for that. Just an opportunity to throw dirt on another sports program so yours looks to be pure as the driven snow.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 8:55 p.m.

Ciccero: I'll help you out here. You said "Just an opportunity to throw dirt on another sports program so yours looks to be pure as the driven snow." Since the reporter does not have his own sports program, we don't know what you are referring to. Furthermore, Pete did not mention Lance. I mentioned him in my comment in reference to how continued public lying just digs one in further.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 8:40 p.m.

Simply amazing I drew the trifecta. Hopefully Pete they will make you the editor and not simply the sports writer. But I ll have it your way you should have put the catagory of unnewsworthy in the mix. Ben I am not sure how much money was raised via this ploy but perhaps Kyle can help you investigage if Notre Dame or the player in question benefited from said unnewsworthy item. As for Kyle perhaps you can further investigage what happened to the sentence in my comment about Ann sports team that either vanished or didnt appear in the first place.

Pete Cunningham

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

Kyle was kind to omit an embarrassing amount of bases on balls surrendered. In the interest of full disclosure I should let you all know that the AnnArbor.Comets were league champions in 2010. The summer of 2012 was another story.

Kyle Feldscher

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:14 p.m.

Ciccero - Last I checked, the only sports program has is our summer softball team and we never had any scandals. Errors and embarrassing strike outs, sure. Scandals, not so much.

Ben Freed

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:06 p.m.

Also, while he did not start a foundation, there was a lot of money raised after her death, per the deadspin article.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:20 p.m.

Also, well played Pete.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

Pretty sure the foundation was more about his whole cancer ordeal and not whether or not he was taking a PED like 90% of the others in the sport.

Pete Cunningham

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

Non-story=two words. Perhaps you'd like to go with "unnewsworthy," which according to is a word.

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.



Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:01 p.m.



Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 4:52 p.m.

Hogwash. Seriously, I heard his statement last night on ESPN. Come on...he says he was a victim of a hoax with an online relationship. If I was that serious with an online friend and she died, I would sure as heck go to the funeral even if I had never met her in person before.T e'o should take a cue from Lance Armstrong and just come clean. Once you're exposed, it only makes it worse to continue lying.

Hernan Fuentes

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.

Exactly, and also consider that this guy being a mormon decided to go to ND instead of BYU. He knew he will get more attention going to ND. In my opinion, there is way more to his story.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

Typical. As a teacher, sob stories are becoming more and more common and brazen. Students get what they want by lyiing, cheating, etc and we blame it on society rather than making them take personal responsibility.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.


Pete Cunningham

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 4:37 p.m.

I went with "weird", and that's what I've heard used most often from people so far.


Sun, Jan 20, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

So is a posting board and not a news organization. Got it.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

I find your comment to be weird, M-Wolverine. This is meant to be more of a posting board message than a journalistic article and poll.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

Is it a good idea if you're trying to conduct a fair and insightful poll if the author of the article tells people how he thinks they should vote in the very first post of the comments? It's not exactly skewing scientific data, and "weird" would have probably still been the most popular in any case, so it's not really a big deal. But it does make the whole thing come off as more of a posting board message than a journalistic article and poll.

Pete Cunningham

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

I had bizarre and weird both listed at first, but figured it was pretty much the same thing.

Lizzy Alfs

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 6:06 p.m.

I agree, Pete. Very strange.

Stephen Landes

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5:40 p.m.

I used weird, too, but only because bizarre wasn't an option.