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A short jaunt, even considering the traffic in Los Angeles.
That's how far Manti Te'o was from his beloved girlfriend, a captivating California beauty named Lennay Kekua, in December of 2011, as he attended the Lott Awards ceremony in Newport Beach, Calif. But based on what he told Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick in a nearly two-hour meeting on Dec. 27 of last year, Te'o never saw her. Not just on that day, but ever.
That is the story that we were being asked to believe when we listened to Swarbrick defend the Fighting Irish All-American linebacker at a Wednesday news conference.
My thoughts on Te'o and his bizarre story have continually swayed since Wednesday afternoon when it broke on Deadspin.com. However, the more Te'o statements that I have researched, the more that I am assured of one indisputable truth.
Te'o is a liar.
Sports Illustrated released the full transcript of a 90-minute interview on Thursday with Te'o that was conducted in September of last year, and the player's statements are more difficult to believe than envisioning the Irish beating Alabama.
I find it impossible to accept that Te'o “is a victim of a hoax,” as Swarbrick told the national media. In fact, anyone that reads those statements related to his relationship with Kekua, and believes that he has been forthright on this matter, is as gullible as Swarbrick described Te'o of being.
The most prominent discrepancy is that Te'o has been unable to keep his story straight as to where, when, or even if, he ever actually met Kekua.
“We met just, ummmm, just she knew my cousin,” Te'o told SI of Kekua. “And kind of saw me there so. Just kind of regular. But she saw me at the USC game of my sophomore year (2010). We were still just friends, we were acquaintances.”
That doesn't match what he told Swarbrick in that December meeting.
“What I will tell you,” Swarbrick explained emphatically, “this was exclusively an online relationship.”
Which doesn't match what Te'o tweeted to Kekua on Oct. 11, 2011.
“nice to meet u too, ma'am,” the tweet read.
Which brings me to the aforementioned awards ceremony.
Based on what Te'o told SI, he and Kekua began dating “Oct. 15 was the official date,” Te'o said. “Of (2011). I've known her for four years. So we've been friends.”
So we are to believe that he had dated a girl, whom he had never met (see Swarbrick's statement), for nearly two months, yet when Te'o was in Newport Beach for the ceremony, which is located a mere 28 miles from the hometown of Kekua (Carson), the couple did not see each other (see Swarbrick's statement)?
If you enjoy reading fiction, his story gets better.
According to Te'o, Kekua graduated from Stanford in 2011 (though he was sketchy on this) and later that year, when her father passed away, she took over his position with Clark's Construction Co. in California. Yet, she still found time to teach “at elementary schools (plural). She flew to New Zealand to just work with kids. That's what she loved to do, work with children.”
Te'o's statements often veered from being dishonest to being demented.
Te'o would sleep nightly while on the phone with Kekua – while she was in a coma – having suffered injuries in a car accident. That practice continued throughout the summer, even after she had “flat lined twice,” according to Te'o, yet awakened from the coma and softly whispered “I love you,” to Te'o, who was on the other line.
“Yeah and you know, she was in a coma,” Te'o said of the calls. “I would try, and you know.”
No, Manti, I don't know.
I don't know why you tweeted an initial greeting to Kekua on Oct. 11, 2011, yet claim you began dating her four days later.
I don't know why you spent all spring and summer sleeping with the phone to your ear.
I don't know why you talked with this woman “every day, every night,” yet didn't know what her major or degree was from Stanford.
I don't know why, with Kekua lying on her death bed, you flew not to California to be by her side, but over Los Angeles to your home in Hawaii for summer break.
I don't know why you allowed a multitude of inaccurate reports stand in the largest media outlets in the world without correcting them.
I don't know why you continually referred to a woman that you had never met (depending on which interview you choose to believe) as your girlfriend.
I don't know why you took a phone call from her on Dec. 6, months after her supposed death, yet still referenced her death in interviews on Dec. 8 and 11.
I don't know why you failed to mention that phone call to anyone for nearly three weeks.
I don't know the answers to any of these situations. But I am confident in knowing this, Manti Te'o is a liar.