Truth is elusive in stories about Te’o and Armstrong

January 24, 2013
Jeff Brucculeri

I had begun writing a column this week that was going to be an elaborate story about how I was contacted via Facebook by someone involved with college football who knew about some NCAA rules violations, and he wanted to meet with me to break the story. The whole idea was to create a scenario of how I got duped by someone I only knew from Internet contact.

I was going to try to parody the Manti Te’o story, and in the end I would find out that the person didn’t really exist. But, I changed my mind.

That column isn’t going to be written by me this week because honestly, I don’t know what to believe about Manti Te’o’s story. If he didn’t know this was all a hoax, then it wouldn’t be right of me to make fun of the situation.

Maybe he really did endure great heartbreak on the day last fall when he was told both his grandmother and online girlfriend had died. Whether the girlfriend was real or not, maybe he really believed she was.

However, the questions are still out there. When did he find out this was a hoax and was he in on it? Did he ever really meet this “girlfriend” in person or not? Was there someone posing as wanting to be his girlfriend online, and did someone really die?

These and other questions may never be answered until he writes his first tell-all autobiography.

As it is right now, Te’o claims it was a hoax perpetuated by someone who has apologized to him and that he didn’t have anything to do with the hoax. He also admitted in an interview with ESPN that he “tailored his stories” and never really met this “girl” in person, but he made up that part of the story so that it wouldn’t appear to be an online-only relationship.

The best tweet on Twitter last week in response to this whole mess came from Seth Meyers of Saturday Night Live; “These Te’o jokes are all very funny but let’s all try and remember that a person who never existed is dead.”

I wish I had thought of that first.

A tweet by Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick pointed to the fact that even Te’o’s university didn’t know what to believe.

“We were very conscious of the fact we didn’t know what we didn’t know. We realize the challenges of that,” Swarbrick tweeted.

Now the challenge is on Te’o to regain the trust of his teammates, friends, family and fans.


Are you tired of the Lance Armstrong story yet? I am. I didn’t even bother to watch a single minute of the two-night special interview with Oprah.

I didn’t need to watch, it’s been summarized all over the news.

Now that Armstrong has admitted to taking Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs), I’m okay with the International Olympic Committee stripping him of his medals, and I’m okay with him being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

It is now clear that he cheated, and when confronted about it, he lied.

Armstrong apparently even lied during his interview with Oprah when he said that he did not have any blood transfusions in 2009 and 2010, but there is clear evidence that he did.

The one thing that doesn’t change is that the charitable organization that Armstrong founded, Livestrong, still does good work providing support to cancer patients and their families.

That’s the only thing for which Armstrong deserves credit.

[Jeff Brucculeri is the author of several books, including "Powerful People Are Inspired by Powerful Athletes," available at Contact;]