On Thursday, a Notre Dame student revealed that it had been common knowledge around campus that Notre Dame football players had doubts about Manti Te’o’s girlfriend.
The football players reportedly told students they did not even want them to wear leis in support of Te’o’s allegedly dead girlfriend because they did not feel that it was fair to call Lennay Kekua Te’o’s “girlfriend.” Some players believed Te’o was exploiting the “death” as a publicity stunt to fuel his Heisman campaign.
Tyler Moorehead, the student, writes:
Yet, even before the Michigan State game, Manti Te’o was being questioned by his teammates. Apparently Manti had only “seen” Lennay once — but I assume “seen” was a rather loose term used for “chatted with online” (however, this is extremely complicated to understand since they were reportedly talking since 2009, according to the Te’o family). The debate among teammates wasn’t whether or not Manti actually knew this girl — it was clear that they had been in contact; no, players just didn’t think that it was fair to call Lennay Kekua Manti’s girlfriend, period (it is well-known on campus that he has had relations with other girls during his time at Notre Dame).
Moorehead said many of the players felt “that Manti didn’t deserve to benefit from the publicity from the death of somebody he barely knew.”
The Notre Dame student also says Te’o, as a defensive player, knew he could not win the Heisman without “exceptional circumstances”:
Manti must have known how beneficial this publicity would be in a season that marked Notre Dame’s return to the national elite, and one that also put him squarely in the Heisman race. As a defensive player, you can’t win the prestigious award without exceptional circumstances — and here one had conveniently fallen into his lap. So he went with it, fed off of it, and it riveted the nation. Love for Manti Te’o exceeded that of any player I have ever seen, and even non-Irish fans hailed him as an inspiration. And here’s where it all gets even trickier.
According to Moorehead, “Manti knew that it was over-the-top — his teammates had gotten that sense a long time prior”:
And now he was in too deep. More and more questions were asked about this fascinating story, and he kept answering them, calling Kekua “the love of his life”, even though he was digging a deeper and deeper hole for himself. And it didn’t help that his family, and specifically his father, Brian Te’o, was also talking about the incident, or lying as it appears.