Former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o spoke to ESPN last night in an off-camera interview with Jeremy Schaap, with whom it was rumored earlier that he would speak.
During the interview, the future NFL player flatly denied having been in any way a part of the hoax perpetrated on him over the course of the past year and a half in which an outside party coaxed him into a ‘romantic’ online relationship with a fictional persona named Lennay Kekua.
Kekua was said to have died of leukemia on September 12, 2012, the same day that Te’o’s grandmother died. The dual tragedy inspired Te’o’s senior college campaign that saw Notre Dame return to the national championship game for the first time in decades.
The person believed to be behind the hoax is Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, an individual with which Te’o is reportedly personally familiar. In the original Deadspin.com article that first broke the news of the hoax, the authors claimed that Tuiasosopo’s now-deleted Instagram account was littered with images of the two together.
That in part fueled speculation that Te’o was a part of the hoax as part of a publicity campaign that saw him finish second in the Heisman trophy running this past season behind Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Later details came to light over the course of the past 48 hours, during which it was suggested that Te’o first learned of the hoax on December 6th when he received a phone call from the number that he recognized as Kekua’s.
The hoaxter allegedly attempted to rekindle the relationship, despite having supposedly died, saying that Kekua faked her death in order to evade drug dealers.
Te’o reportedly admitted to teammates that over the course of time following that day he continued to lie about Kekua as he struggled how to handle the situation so that it would not be a distraction for the team as it prepared to play in the national championship game.
Details of the audio-only interview will surface on ESPN following the conclusion of the Oklahoma City Thunder versus Dallas Mavericks game; however, how many questions will be left unanswered is likely to be significant.
Like this article? Then please subscribe to this author’s articles about the NFL by clicking the subscribe button next to the author’s name or here to receive an e-mail notification whenever a new article is posted.