Thursday, January 17, 2013

Not live, not local, heartbreaking

This story just broke last night, it seems confusing, in that it involves the death of someone who was never born.

Whoa, back up, I know.

All right.  This fellow Manti Te'o, a football player from Notre Dame, dedicated this past season to the memory of someone he called his girlfriend.  Her name was Lennay Marie Kekua, a student at Stanford University.  To be fair about it all, he had just lost his grandmother right before the season started, and he had been involved with Ms Kekua online and on the phone only, but he apparently was quite emotionally invested in the relationship.  He says she was ill and told him to still play on and do his best in case she died.

Then, he told his coach that he had lost both his grandmother and his girlfriend, having received word of her passing.

Te'o played the season under the impression that the woman he cared for so deeply had lost her battle with cancer.  He finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting, played in the national championship game against Alabama (Notre Dame was soundly defeated in that sorry contest) and entered 2013 looking forward to the NFL draft this spring, although most scouts felt that his lackluster performance in the Alabama buttkickin' took down his stock among the pro teams a bit.

And then, the athletic director at Notre Dame received a phone call from the phone number belonging to the "late" Ms Kekua, according to this online story.  Notre Dame hired an investigator, who found that several people had cooked up the scheme.  They went so far as to use pictures of another woman to set up fake social media accounts in the name of Ms Kekua.  The investigators were not able to find any record of the birth, death, or enrollment at Stanford for one Lennay Kekua. apparently did all the investigation on this story and found out many disturbing facts.  It's fascinating.  Someone or some people sent this football star online messages and called him, and he came to believe that he was in love with a woman who never existed, and they kept up the hoax for over three years.

People's senses can be overruled by the heart.  I once knew a man who thought his own mother died because he was told that someone who looked like his mother had passed away, so he went with the story until he went to his mother's house to claim her belongings and found her there, as alive as she could be.

But you have to question why Notre Dame University, a school so in love with legends and mythology, would use this to beat the publicity drum for Te'o's campaign for Heisman glory.  Remember, they once talked their quarterback Joe Theismann into changing the pronunciation of his surname from THEEZman to THIZEman so that it would rhyme with Heisman.  And he did it.  And he lost the trophy to Jim Plunkett, who pronounced his name in the standard manner.

A man is fooled into thinking he has met another person, whose part is being played by other people.  And he thinks she loves him and he loves her and they are going to get married and he leads himself to believe they vacationed together in Hawaii and then she dies but one of her last messages tells him not to attend her funeral, since it's more important to play football than to attend the burial of the woman you love.

I'm starting to think this internet thing might not be all that perfect.

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