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LJWorld.com weblogs Tale of the Tait

Oh my! Manti Te'o story takes new and horrible twist

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During the 13 months that I’ve covered him, Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis has proven himself to be 100 percent honest. It’s one of his most solid characteristics and one of the things on which he prides himself.

Another is his ability to read people, build relationships and have an impact on the lives of hundreds of young men throughout the past few decades.

That’s what makes today’s Deadspin story about the tale of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o’s girlfriend being a hoax seem like such an unbelievable thing.

Although Weis has talked very little about Notre Dame since taking over at Kansas in December of 2011, he has answered questions when asked and talked, both publicly and privately, about how much he values his relationship with Te’o and his family.

Weis certainly had nothing to do with any of this, but I can only imagine how much hearing this news hurts him emotionally, given the strong bond he has with the Te'o family, and how much it will really hurt him if it turns out to be true.

No one knows what to think right now but this much we do know: Deadspin’s report was wonderfully done and, if accurate, brings shame to the entire Te’o family.

Here's the official statement from Notre Dame released just moments ago:

Notre Dame Statement: Manti Te’o

On Dec. 26, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te’o and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia. The University immediately initiated an investigation to assist Manti and his family in discovering the motive for and nature of this hoax. While the proper authorities will continue to investigate this troubling matter, this appears to be, at a minimum, a sad and very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators.

Dennis Brown University Spokesman | Assistant Vice President

Statement from Manti Te'o:

"This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her.

"To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.

"It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life.

"I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been.

"In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was.

"Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I'm looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft."

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