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Te’o, Lance & Scrub a dub-dub

Posted By Steven Keys On Jan 21 2013 @ 6:12 pm In Featured | 9 Comments

So you’re thinking about attending this year’s NFL Scouting Combine in February?

When you do, best just leave your ‘moral-compass’ back at the motel. Won’t need it.

If the Manti Te’o scrub-up is any indicator, the character-test won’t be given out at this year’s obstacle course, or any other NFL dress rehearsal, for that matter.

Since the Deadspin article on Te’o’s fake, leukemia-stricken girlfriend hit the fan early last week, handlers of the Notre Dame All-American have been running him and his reputation through a media wash & spin cycle.

Irish AD-VP Jack Swarbrick kicked things off Wednesday with an ‘I believe Manti’ press conference.

On Friday, ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap interviewed the sequestered, fallen hero who fielded questions filtered through his attorney.

Now, Team Te’o has reportedly reserved time on the Katie Couric show this Thursday with his parents alongside as buffer. This Manti guy, he’s a real piece a’ work.

A clean-up job like this is rare, but the character kiss-off in the sport biz is nothing new.

Remember Larry Phillips (NEB / ‘96), the Cornhusker who dragged a woman down a stairwell and then Tom Osborne returned him to the roster just in time for the big game? The red-flags were flyin’ high on Larry but he still got the royal treatment on draft day (R1-P6 / STL). Now he’s resident of the California penal system. I wonder if Tom & Dick would’ve played social-worker had Larry not been a gridiron star? I’m thinking…no.

Te’o didn’t go caveman on anyone, he just played us all for Neanderthals.

Why don’t I believe Manti’s denial of any involvement in concocting the fake, fateful girlfriend? Because no man, I mean NO man, who is generally honest, would refer to an on-line friend whom he never met, neither in person or by video chat, even if believed to be real, as a “girlfriend” when speaking in public. No man.

But an arrogant, ignorant man might fabricate an on-line “girlfriend” with special purpose in mind: to cultivate attention & sympathy that will help to bring a Heisman contender the votes necessary to win the coveted award and the fame & fortune which accompanies its receipt. Every little bit helps when you play on that side of the ball which has never been primary workplace of a Heisman recipient.

A friend who purportedly dies of cancer is a sad tale to listeners. A “girlfriend” who dies is a memorable story to Heisman voters, especially when the word and its sad story are dropped into practically every interview you give.

The golden-domers had another Heisman hungry hero back in the day by the name of Joe Theismann (Theez-man). Some believe Joe changed the pronunciation of his last name to rhyme with the famous trophy in hopes of garnering votes. If true, goofy and kinda’ desperate, but harmless enough.

Te’o is claiming victim status, Swarbrick is firmly in his corner, a new MT girlfriend has appeared and a fabrication fall-guy has stepped forward (R. Tuiasosopo), a guy who‘s motive (Just for kicks?) will be as unbelievable as the Te’o denial. A weak explanation, to be sure, but it’s their story and they, along with most the media, are gonna’ stick to it.

The print media remains divided, skeptical of Manti Te’o, but Sportscenter is scrubbin’ like mad.

John Clayton on Te’o: “No character issue (1/17).”

Bill Polian: “No character issue.“

Schaap the Younger, assigned to Mr. Clean duty, conducted a closed-door interview with the beleaguered footballer on Friday (who looked like he’d just rolled out bed), ostensibly to get the true story but more likely to scrub-down the player’s image before his draft-value plummets and ND’s recruitment suffers. Jeremy on Te’o: “believable.” Bravo.

Earlier in the week, Oprah Winfrey Scrub & Shine provided the same service for Lance Armstrong Amalgamated. As Lancer’s record of deceit & skullduggery is major league in comparison to the young Te’o’s tally of tsk-tsks, he’ll need many more drives through the ‘character car wash’ before he’s presentable again, corporately speaking. But Lance is a savvy dude. He might still take PEDs mainstream, if the lawsuits don’t do him in.

When the media outlet that breaks the Manti Te’o hoax boasts its biggest claim to fame to be the Sterger / Favre item, it’s fair to say our 4th branch of government (the media) is not meeting its duty to the public interest. ‘Captured’ might be the relevant word here.

Like Mr. Phillips, Te’o will probably go 1st round in this April’s NFL Draft. And he will fare better, mentally speaking, than Larry did if he remains true to this one, simple rule. It’s called the Costanza Rule: “It’s not a lie, if you believe it.”

Steven Keys

Macro Sports

Photo Credit:  Graham-McKean

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