In his first on-camera interview since it was revealed his girlfriend never existed and was a hoax, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o told television personality Katie Couric he was "sorry" to those who were misled and insisted he still did not technically lie about having met "Lennay Kekua"--the person he thought was his girlfriend--"in person."
"For people feeling that they were misled, that I'm sorry for," Te'o said on "Katie," Couric's syndicated talk show. The interview was taped on Tuesday and aired on Thursday. Couric and Te'o share a publicist.
He said he was not as "forthcoming about it, but I didn't lie."
When Couric asked Te'o how he could say he did not lie, Te'o simply said he was never asked explicitly by anyone if he had seen "Lennay Kekua" in person.
"I never was asked, 'did you see her in person?,'" Te'o said.
When asked if that, was in essence, lying, Te'o said "the biggest lie that I am sorry for is the lie that I told my dad."
Later in the interview, Te'o conceded that he was not entirely truthful two days after he received a phone call from "Lennay Kekua" claiming that she had to fake her death to avoid drug dealers.
"Katie, put yourself in my situation. I, my whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12," Te'o said. "Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she's alive and then I'm going be put on national TV two days later. And to ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?"
As Breitbart Sports wrote, though, at the December 8th Heisman Trophy presentation, ESPN's Chris Fowler asked Te'o, who finished second in the voting to eventual winner Johnny Manziel, what about the death of his girlfriend would he most remember. Here is what Te'o said then--two days after receiving that alleged phone call--in full:
"I think I'll never forget the time when I found out that, you know, my girlfriend passed away and the first person to run to my aid was my defensive coordinator, Coach [Bob] Diaco, and you know he said something very profound to me. He said, 'This is where your faith is tested.' Right after that, I ran into the players' lounge and I got on the phone with my parents -- and I opened my eyes and my head coach was sitting right there. And so, you know, there are a hundred-plus people on our team and the defensive coordinator and our head coach took time to just go get one (of those players). You know I think that was the most meaningful to me."