Manti Te’o speaks to Katie Couric and maintains he played no part in hoax

In his first on-camera interview, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o tells Katie Couric about spending all night on the phone with his online girlfriend, who never existed. The full interview will air on “Katie” on Thursday. (Courtesy of "Katie")
January 24, 2013

It’s been more than a week since Deadspin initially reported that Lennay Kekua, a woman Manti Te’o considered his girlfriend, was not a real person. The former Notre Dame linebacker and Heisman Trophy finalist spoke with Katie Couric on Wednesday in an interview scheduled to air Thursday. According to the Associated Press:

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o admitted to Katie Couric he answered questions about his “dead,” online girlfriend even after he received a call Dec. 6 from a woman posing as the fake person.

Te’o also maintained he played no part in the hoax.

Pressed by Couric to admit that he was in on the deception, the All-American said he was convinced the woman he knew as Lennay Kekua died in September. Te’o claims he never met Kekua in person but developed a serious relationship with her through phone calls and electronic messages.

“Katie, put yourself in my situation. I, my whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12,” Te’o said in an interview to air Thursday on Couric’s syndicated talk show. A segment of the interview with Te’o and his parents was broadcast Wednesday on “Good Morning America.”

“Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she’s alive and then I’m going be put on national TV two days later. And to ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?” Te’o said.

Mark Maske writes several Redskins players may have narrowly avoided a smiliar scenario

According to a report Wednesday on NFL.com, the Washington Redskins warned their players in December about interacting via social media with a woman who attempted to contact players using a pseudonym and fake photographs. A person familiar with the case confirmed the report.

The story said that several Redskins players attempted to arrange meetings with the woman and the NFL’s security staff conducted an investigation. No players were exploited or threatened and the woman never sought money or other benefits, according to the report.

“I think it was all about attention,” Phillip Daniels, the Redskins’ director of player development, told the league’s Web site. “I don’t think it was any of the other stuff. It was just about being able to talk to them, pretending to be someone they aren’t. It was never a situation where guys were giving money or anything like that.”

The Redskins declined to comment on the NFL.com report and refused to make Daniels available for an interview. Daniels did not return telephone messages.

Tracee Hamilton writes that Te’o is not blameless:

Te’o has admitted that he learned Dec. 6 that his girlfriend — who supposedly was in a terrible car accident, then died of leukemia the same day as his grandmother passed away — was imaginary. (A nationally known Notre Dame linebacker can’t meet — actually meet — a nice gal in South Bend? Really?)

Te’o was to attend the Heisman Trophy announcement Dec. 8, so obviously he didn’t want to mar that hallowed event with, you know, the truth. And all the days between Dec. 8 and last week, when Deadspin broke the hoax story? Yes, the Fighting Irish had a BCS national championship game to play, but if Te’o had gotten in front of this story in December, it would be gone by now. Yes, there would have been taunts from Alabama players, but he’d best get used to taunts. He lived via the Internet, and he’s about to find out what it means to be hoisted on his own petard.

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