So, backstory. I have never liked sports. Not playing them, not watching them, not talking about them. I have a lifelong affinity for the Cubs due to my father and great-grandmother’s love for them, but other than that, fuck sports. Especially team sports. I didn’t even like playing doubles tennis, it’s probably why I didn’t make varsity in high school, along with the fact that, as I may have said, I don’t like sports. Even ones I played. Then, I married into a family who absolutely adores Notre Dame football with every ounce of their respective and collective beings. So, I played along. Whoo. Go Irish. Sports sports sports. Safetys and kicks. Whatever. I want a hot pretzel.
Quick interlude to say if a single one of you is mad at me for being a typical “ugh, ew, gross, sports” girl, then FUCK YOU, you’re the sexist. And if you read that as “aw, she’s a girl, of course she doesn’t like sports” then FUCK YOU, you’re the misogynist. I just don’t like other people enough to get sweaty with them unless I’m getting something damn good out of it. And watching the sports games? EFF THAT NOISE. It’s like watching someone play a video game. Boring and pointless.
But, then, over time, I grew to love and understand and care about football. Notre Dame football specifically. Not because my husband or in-laws made me, but because I got swept up in the magic of the fandom, the history, the glory of the game.
And so, not unlike the moment Belle truly loved the Beast, I was given a gift last night for my sincere affection, and it’s so much better than a chiseled blond prince. So, so much better.
Because, last night, my two favorite things came together in a cacophony of madness and joy. Notre Dame football, and crazytownbananapants celebrity gossip drama. AND OH DID I GET IT IN ABUNDANCE.
You guys! Is this what sports is always like?! BECAUSE SIGN ME THE FUCK UP. Is it too late for me to play tee-ball? Because I will play the shit out of some goddamn tee-ball. That’s how much I love sports now. Holy pants. Love it.
Some of you might not know what I’m talking about, because you’ve stayed off Facebook and Twitter for the past 18 hours or so, perhaps on a monkly sabbatical. I’ll sum up.
So, Manti Te’o is a linebacker for ND. A Hawaiian Mormon, a sweetheart, an all around good guy and he became the star of the team this year, largely due to his triumph in the face of tragedy when, on the same day, he lost both his grandmother and his girlfriend, the girlfriend’s loss due to leukemia. That weekend, the stands were filled with supportive fans, giving a loving standing ovation, adorned with brightly colored leis in honor of their brave, brave hero. After the Michigan game, my husband almost literally threw our daughter at Te’o to get a picture, to have her blessed by a potential Heisman winner. Here’s the picture. It didn’t turn out great.
You know what else didn’t turn out great? Te’o’s dramatic tale of loss and woe. Because, while grandma is most assuredly chilling on the big lanai in the sky, girlfriend? FAKE. She is about as dead as Charlie Sheen’s dick around a roomful of coked up 18-year-olds, and about as real as the possibility of Taylor Swift writing a song called “Maybe I Shouldn’t Put This Much Emphasis On Dudes Who Clearly Aren’t That Into Me, and Maybe She’s Not a Whore Because She Has Brown Hair.” She not ded. U don’t cri evrytim. She was made up. Fictitious. A fabrication. A lie.
And I love everything about it. Eeee! I’m doing that happy jumpy shake thing just thinking about it! There are jazz fingers and everything!
Look, it is wrong to lie. And it is really wrong to lie about dead people. But you can’t tell me this is not the single most enjoyable thing to happen in sports since [insert some kind of sports reference here because I don’t know if you read the opening paragraph but I got nothin’]. This is like the Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson thing all over again only it’s got FAKE DEAD PEOPLE. It’s like, sure, “The OC” ended, but god gave me this to keep me going. I love it. I want to snuggle it.
Okay, all that aside, obviously, that enjoyment is not directed at Te’o and company. Ohhh, buddy. You fucked up big.
There are several possibilities here. Let’s go over them.
Scenario #1: Te’o was, as he maintains, totally Catfished. We get it, we’ve been there. Hell, chick even had the car accident, immediately followed by cancer. Apparently there’s a playbook and “Lennay Kekua” read it word for word. So, is it plausible that this sweet, naive young man fell for the trickery of an internet asshole pretending to be a supple young wahine nani from Stanford? Sure. But that does mean that he and his family, with a probably complicit school and team staff, exaggerated it for the purpose of a good story—adding bits about all-night phone calls and meetings that clearly never took place. “Why would he do that?” you ask? If you’d seen those leis, those adoring fans in person, you’d know.
Scenario #2: Dude was in on it from the get, with “Lennay” his girlfriend from Canada that never existed. Then he killed her off. On the same day as his grandma, totally stealing grandma’s death thunder.
I’m going with a bit of both. A bit of #1 with a heavy spoonful of #2 and, at the very minimum, a BIG dose of tacit PR exaggeration by Te’o, his family and the whole ND football program, and who knows what and who else, because this story keeps getting weirder. But, at the time, it worked. It got asses in the seats, it made people care. It brought magic back to Notre Dame football. Te’o was beloved. A hero.
Well, at least he’s got his girlfriend.