Manti Te'o at a press conference before the BCS title game /AP photo
We've had about 18 hours to digest this Manti Te'o story, and a lot of us still aren't sure exactly what we've swallowed. In the midst of the Deadspin report and the furious Notre Dame statements, explanations and spin, depending on how you want to look at it, there is one thing that we just can't get past: Would you ever, even in the virtual world we live in here in 2013, call someone your "girlfriend" or "boyfriend" if you had never actually met them in person? We can't fathom that. Can we fathom that a college football player could have an emotional relationship with someone online? Sure. But that's not a girlfriend. And we do know for sure that Teo and the alleged Lennay Kekua never actually met in person, per AD Jack Swarbrick's press conference (one which could come back to haunt him):
What I will tell you, this was exclusively an online relationship. ... When I first talked to Manti on the 27th about this and we went through it and I asked him to take me to the beginning, he began by saying we met on. I said, what do you mean you met on? It was an online meeting. He used the verb "we met," and he was referring to an online meeting. He responded to an online inquiry. That was the first time he met her. And as part of the hoax, several meetings were set up where Lennay never showed, including some in Hawaii.
Sorry. Te'o is a first-team academic All-American. Sure, he's still young and perhaps naive. But nobody in their right mind would be duped for this long.
Read the entire Swarbrick transcript.
Then go back and read the entire Deadspin report.
Then tell us: Was Te'o a victim or a co-conspirator in all of this?