So, unless you’ve been under a rock, you know by now about the crazy story about Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and the story of his dead girlfriend, which turned out to be a hoax. (And if you haven’t read Deadspin’s excellent report, here you go.) There wasn’t much yesterday that was going to knock Lance Armstrong and Chip Kelly off the national stage, but the Te’o story did it.
Unbelievably, at least from this corner of the sports world, the Cardinals have a tie to the story. Last night, ESPN tracked down former Cardinals fullback Regan Maui’a and Maui’a said he had actually met the girl. The girl that Te’o, Deadspin and Notre Dame all acknowledge didn’t exist. Um, OK.
From ESPN’s story, Maui’a said he thought she existed because he met her in person doing charity work in American Samoa in June, 2011, with, among other people, Steelers safety Troy Polomalu. (ESPN is calling Maui’a “Cardinals fullback” and while Maui’a has been back quite a few times, he isn’t on the roster right now.)
“This was before her and Manti,” Maui’a said. “I don’t think Manti was even in the picture, but she and I became good friends. We would talk off and on, just checking up on each other kind of thing. I am close to her family. When she was going through the loss of her father, I was — I offered a comforting shoulder and just someone to bounce her emotions off. That was just from meeting her in Samoa.”
Wow. You can peel the layers of this onion for a long time.
This isn’t going away anytime soon. Everyone is going to be digging for more and more answers. I am surprised Notre Dame came out talking about it and backing Te’o so forcefully. We’ll see how it unravels.
As for as Te’o's draft stock — he will be drafted in April — my guess is, no matter what his involvement, it won’t matter much. Will some teams red flag him? Sure. But as always, if he can play, someone will want him, and if he can play well, someone will want him early in the draft. That’s how this works.
Tags: Manti Te'o, Reagan Maui'a
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