If you asked anyone to conjure up the craziest sports story possible this January, I don't think anyone could have come up with something as nuts as the Manti Te'o situation. His late girlfriend, the one who died of Leukemia, didn't exist? How could this be possible? After all, his girlfriend and grandmother dying within a span of 24 hours was one of the reasons he received so much Heisman consideration.
Well, I was the victim of an online female hoax when I was a freshman at Penn State 12 years ago. It obviously wasn't of this magnitude, but it's still something I'll never forget. I don't know if I want to go into the details - I may do so in the future - but I'll just say that I was pretty hurt by the situation. Even though I can't believe how naive I was in hindsight, I still feel for Te'o - but obviously only if it's true that he was fooled, as he claims.
However, there are so many things that don't add up. All of the discrepancies in the stories, including the meetings, visits and long phone calls... Te'o's dad's statement about her traveling to Hawaii when Te'o was there... Or as forum member Scar pointed out, how about the fact that Te'o didn't visit her once after he learned she had cancer? And what about never going to her grave site? So, he's either a liar or the worst boyfriend of all time.
Do you believe that this was a hoax? Or was he lying?
The question must be asked: Will this affect Te'o's draft stock? I'll have a more definitive answer soon hopefully after hearing from league sources, but for now, I'd have to think so.
If Te'o is lying, that's obviously terrible for his pro prospects. He'll be deemed a major character risk, though some team will take a chance on him (Bengals?). If this is just a hoax, however, some general managers may worry that he won't be respected in the locker room. He'll be the butt of every joke amongst his teammates, which is obviously not good.
Here's the thing though: I don't think we'll ever know for sure if Te'o conjured the entire thing up. How can he possibly prove that he was the victim of a terrible hoax? Yes, you're innocent until proven guilty in this country, but only in a court room. This does not apply to the court of public opinion; he needs to prove that he was duped because based on the tweets and message board posts I read throughout Wednesday evening, most people aren't buying Te'o's claim - so I doubt most teams will.
What do you think? Will this affect his draft stock?