Girlfriend in a coma

I find this story fascinating:

Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, the stories said, played this season under a terrible burden. A Mormon linebacker who led his Catholic school’s football program back to glory, Te’o was whipsawed between personal tragedies along the way. In the span of six hours in September, as Sports Illustrated told it, Te’o learned first of the death of his grandmother, Annette Santiago, and then of the death of his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua.


Did you enjoy the uplifiting story, the tale of a man who responded to adversity by becoming one of the top players of the game? If so, stop reading.

105 replies
  1. 1
    dr. luba says:

    It’s serious…..

  2. 2
    Alex says:

    It’s fascinating partly because this is only the tip of the iceberg. I don’t believe for a second that he wasn’t in on it. We’re about to find out a lot more about this guy.

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    Kind of puts your trolling to shame, doesn’t it Doug?

    Time to step it up.

  4. 4
    some guy says:

    definitely more fun story than what our Al Qaeda allies are up to in Syria, that’s for sure.

  5. 5
    Corner Stone says:

    Lei off this guy.

  6. 6
    Alexandra says:

    Expect an Oprah confessional within the next 12-18 months.

  7. 7
    Valdivia says:

    I just read the deadspin story earlier and was totally engrossed by it even if I know nothing about college football. Amazing that they could just print this stuff without ever confirming it. And the ‘friend’ who started the twitter accounts–to me he is the most fascinating character in the whole story.

  8. 8
    Seanly says:

    I bet Notre Dame was in on it also.

  9. 9
    cathyx says:

    Did you even notice the previous post?

  10. 10
    Comrade Jake says:

    I posted this below, but if you haven’t read this tweet on the whole thing yet… Make it so.

  11. 11
    The Dangerman says:

    Wait. Do we REALLY know there the BlogBoss has this big large enormous cat called Tunch? For that matter, do we really know that there is a BlogBoss? The mind reels.

  12. 12
    Comrade Jake says:

    @Valdivia: the failure of the media here is certainly a big part of the story.

  13. 13
    General Stuck says:

    My printer has become possessed by the devil

  14. 14
    Smiling Mortician says:

    @Comrade Jake: Holy shit, that’s good.

  15. 15
    chopper says:

    do you really think she’ll pull through?

  16. 16
    befuggled says:

    Let’s see if you’re still fascinated in a week.

  17. 17
    Valdivia says:

    @Comrade Jake:

    yes to me this is the aspect that was most striking. Apparently one of the writers of the story isn’t even done with college yet! College reporters: better than our media.

  18. 18
    Yutsano says:

    Jeebus. I thought this was about Gex for a minute. Stop scaring me like that Dougie.

    @cathyx: JC doesn’t even read this blog. Why should Doug?

  19. 19
    Eric U. says:

    @befuggled: I’m not even fascinated after two consecutive threads on this blog. Pretty much fascinated out.

  20. 20
    The Dangerman says:

    @Comrade Jake:

    I posted this below, but if you haven’t read this tweet…

    As opposed to the “girlfriend”, there’s actually some historical records of “Jesus” in some Roman writings. So, the tweet probably fails on the “fake person” part of it; now, the whole “Son of God” thing is an entirely different matter that doesn’t need to be argued here.

  21. 21
    eemom says:

    Dammit, I wanted a Lance Armstrong thread.

    Isn’t there something about that, that Cole has some ‘splainin’ to do about or something?

  22. 22
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @The Dangerman: I think more of Joseph Smith who made stuff up as he went along.

  23. 23
    scav says:

    @cathyx: The song title had to be used. Come on, I felt the lack and I’m rubbish at music.

  24. 24
    JenJen says:

    Lance Armstrong’s gotta be thinking, “I freaking LOVE this guy!!”

  25. 25
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Do you read this board?

  26. 26
    PsiFighter37 says:

    @Corner Stone: Well-done, very understated way of putting it.

    I want to hear from Te’o himself. And did the ND Athletic Director really cry during his conference tonight? If so, I he must know a helluva crocodile to teach him those big, juicy tears of fake sad.

  27. 27
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @eemom: I’ve been trying to hijack threads with my Lance postings, but haven’t had much success.

  28. 28
    eemom says:

    Also too, maybe it’ll come out that this dude hacked into some ND computer and downloaded a few million Facebook profiles. That’ll fix it.

    Too soon?

  29. 29
    Doug Galt says:


    True dat.

  30. 30
    aimai says:

    @The Dangerman:

    What references to Jesus in contemporary Roman writing? I’ve never heard of any, at all.

  31. 31
    eemom says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Let’s you and me work together then.

    GOD, what a complete and utter scumbag that guy is. How in the name of fuck did he get away with it for so long??

    And why did he admit it now?

  32. 32
    redshirt says:

    Here’s hoping three other FPers get in on this most important topic.

    It’s like the guy who pops into a 200 comment thread to make the most obvious joke, which has already been made at least 3 times.

  33. 33
    cyntax says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    I’ve been trying to hijack threads with my Lance postings, but haven’t had much success.

    Now you know how Jan Ulrich felt.

  34. 34
    Robin G. says:

    It’s clear to me that a TARDIS was involved somehow.

  35. 35
    Keith G says:

    Say what you want about Manti, but at least it seems he wasn’t picking up drunk co-eds at bars and raping them.

    22 year old gets involved in something that blows up in his face. Film at 11.

  36. 36
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Well the interview is on TV tomorrow so have faith.

  37. 37
    Halcyon says:

    Surprise twist to make everyone happy: The person pretending to be Te’o’s girlfriend was Lance Armstrong.

  38. 38
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    I’m just reading this whole story now.

    What the fuck.

  39. 39
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Halcyon: And where would you like your internets deliverd, sir/madam?

  40. 40
    Keith G says:


    The person pretending to be Te’o’s girlfriend was Lance Armstrong.

    No…no…that can’t be. Doesn’t he still have one nut?

  41. 41
    redshirt says:

    I appreciate how much attention this is giving Samoa. Samoa is football paradise.

  42. 42
    The Dangerman says:


    I’ve never heard of any, at all.

    I was referring to writings attributed to Josephus and Tacitus (sp?); a quick google search shows there is controversy over at least Josephus, but, all things considered, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t any controversy.

  43. 43
    Keith G says:

    @redshirt: Does it really need Samoa attention?

  44. 44
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @cyntax: Win!

    I actually do know how Jan felt, because I get really fat over the winter too.

  45. 45
    patroclus says:

    @aimai: You need to bone up on your Josephus readings.

    All my fake dead girlfriends were super hot, had multiple airplane accidents, had multiple bone marrow transplant operations and died from the worst diseases ever just in time to provide inspiration to me at critical times in my life. Can I win the Heisman??

  46. 46
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee: The interview is on, but it’s on the Nobody Watches Network. Might as well be on Current.

    I’m waiting for Greg Lemond or Frankie Andreu to react.

  47. 47
    burnspbesq says:

    The craziest part of this for me is that there was nothing of value that could possibly be gained from it.

    Te’o was already going to go in the first half of the first round of the NFL draft (he might be the second defensive player drafted), and barring catastrophic injury he was going to make a shit-ton of money over his football career.

    Defensive players have no shot at ever winning the Heisman, and falsely enhancing his back-story wasn’t going to change that.

    Notre Dame is back. Period, full stop. Brian Kelly has done one heck of a job rebuilding the program.

    I ask myself “cui bono,” and the answer that comes back is “fucked if I know.”

  48. 48
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Robin G.:

    You know what this means, don’t you?

    It’s the Kenyan Muslim Time Traveler’s fault!

  49. 49
    cyntax says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Just don’t go drowning your sorrows in ecstasy tablets and Kraftwerk albums.

    On second thought, there’s worse things one could do.

  50. 50
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    I think I already know how Greg LeMond will react. “I never like to say I told you so, but damn it all, I told you so.”

  51. 51
    The Dangerman says:


    Can I win the Heisman?

    The collective sigh of relief at the Heisman Foundation could probably be heard for miles.

    What surprises me is that I watched more than a little ND football this year – maybe not complete games ever, but a lot of Pitt, Stanford, Oklahoma, and, sadly, the NC game…

    …and I don’t recall hearing a single word about this “girlfriend” and “her death” (but I generally tone out these “human interest” stories, so maybe that’s it).

  52. 52
    burnspbesq says:


    Isn’t there something about that, that Cole has some ‘splainin’ to do about or something?

    The first rule of Fight Club Balloon-Juice is “never talk about Fight Club Balloon-Juice.”

    The second rule of Balloon-Juice is “never ‘splain.”

  53. 53
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Comrade Jake:

    And because the utter failure of the media is a huge part of the story, the media will pointedly ignore it.

  54. 54
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @eemom: He’s admitting it now because he thinks he can control the environment around the story, like he always controlled it before, and is making a simple cost-benefit calculation. The stature of limitations on perjury has run out, so I don’t think there’s criminal liability remaining, and he seems to figure he can settle the civil cases for some reasonable amount.

    As I said the other day, winners of the Tour de France or the Giro d’Italia will never be finalists for Mr Congeniality. These are unbelievably difficult athletic contests in which only the ruthless rise to the top. Nobody ever accused Merckx or Hinault of being cuddly guys. Armstrong combined that with a state-of-the-art medical operation to set new standards in the sport. But the bullying was completely in character, and is the part people are having a really hard time getting past.

  55. 55
    Karl says:

    Joesphus was born in 37, Tacitus in 56, legend says Jesus died in 34: can’t conceivably be contemporaries.

    Heh, the google brain says he died in 30 but gives no source. Maybe we could get Siri to settle it.

  56. 56
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @cyntax: Jan was more about the hookers and blow, IIRC.

  57. 57
    Karl says:

    Josephus damnit.

  58. 58
    J.W. Hamner says:

    If this dude really did conspire to fabricate a dead girlfriend to garner public support for his Heisman campaign then he is a really messed up individual… especially if his family wasn’t in on it too. I guess that’s why I’m hoping the Notre Dame version is closer to the truth.

  59. 59
    Comrade Jake says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I don’t think they’re going to be able to ignore it for long. There was some very basic fact checking that simply wasn’t done here. See this Slate piece:

  60. 60
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    If the kid is from a Mormon family, and doesn’t have a girlfriend, and furthermore doesn’t really want to have a girlfriend…

    Well, there’s your answer. The thing is, why go to such elaborate lengths to set up something that’s bound to blow up if someone takes too close a look at it?

  61. 61
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    I wouldn’t put it past the Notre Dame Football factory to have helped the story along.

  62. 62
    Calouste says:

    Only explanation that makes sense to me is that the dude is gay, which as a Mormon football star at a Catholic school, might be a bit of a problem. So, instead of doing the smart thing and finding himself one of the local beauties and using religion as an excuse not to have sexy time, he and/or his friend come up with the idea to create a fake girlfriend. Friend maintains the twitter account of the fake girlfriend using pictures of one of his female acquaintances. Fake girlfriend needs to be killed off when there are a few too many questions why she never shows up at games.

    As they say, it sounded like a good idea at the time.

  63. 63
    Keith G says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Nah…there would be no upside and huge downside as we are seeing.

  64. 64
    catclub says:

    @aimai: Josephus, History of the Jews, has a likely mention of Jesus. Josephus was a Roman citizen I think. He traveled around a lot. Not quite contemporary, but very close to it.

  65. 65
    scav says:

    For the whole alternative universe/ timestream explanations of the situation, an alternative theme song ISIHAC

  66. 66
    mainmati says:

    @Calouste: Given the relationship with the other guy involved in this ridiculous fabrication, it is entirely possible it was a gay relationship. However, young guys often do crazy games together. So, it’s entirely possible that this was just (a pretty weird) game. Dunno.

  67. 67
    patroclus says:

    Josephus was a Jew; not a Christian, and he had a rather fanciful life, including, allegedly, being present at the last holdout of one of the sects that withdrew to the mountain caves in the second rebellion and, instead of killing himself, allowed the Romans to talk him into surrendering. He then, after moving to Rome, wrote what were probably adventure novels that were supposedly historically based and he mentioned Jesus, John the Baptist and James a few times in his works (as well as Herod and Pilate and others with which the Gospels dealt more reverentially).

    But I don’t think he had any fake dead internet-only girlfriends designed to win sypathy for national football awards.

  68. 68
    Suzanne says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Concur. It’s about control for him, and also I’m sure he wants to ride the gravy train as long as he can. I’ve read speculation that the competition ban might even be lifted if he admits it and seems properly contrite.

    And her gets to have his face all over my internet and TV again without my permission, so there’s that.

  69. 69
    Calouste says:

    @mainmati: I read in one of the article that dad was apparently in on the whole thing (confirmed the visits to Hawaii), so that makes it lean towards a cover up rather than a prank.

  70. 70
    DPS says:


    No, they’re not contemporaries. But if you’re going to talk about Greco-Roman antiquity and use only contemporary sources, there are all kinds of people you can’t show existed.

    There’s also a good reason why there wouldn’t be any contemporary Roman sources who talked about him, even if we hadn’t lost practically everything. He was a person of no consequence at the other end of the Mediterranean who may have created a minor annoyance to local administration but was taken care of in the usual way. Nothing to write home about. The only way he’d have of showing up on the radar was when people identifying themselves as his followers started popping up in Rome and other big cities. In other words, if this person actually existed, it’s highly improbable that we’d have contemporary evidence about him.

    Now, the supernatural powers etc. are obviously fiction and imagination, but there’s not any particularly compelling reason to doubt that the guy existed.

  71. 71
    Mike E says:

    Oddly enough, my local TV news team made this story sound like he was taken in by a spoof troll online. Huh.

  72. 72
    Haydnseek says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Neither would I. I’m waiting for the Notre Dame athletic director to hold a press conference to let us all know that they were completely taken in by the rumor that the girlfriend was a distant relative of Knute Rockne.

    ETA: Nice job on the song title, Doug.

  73. 73
    lige says:

    @ DPS et al:
    The Josephus citations are pretty disputed and many think they are later insertions by Christian scribes when they recopied the Josephus manuscript (why wouldn’t he have mentioned Jesus?). Of course the more you look at it how much can you really trust ancient documents?

  74. 74
    Valdivia says:

    Just totally loving the contemporaneous mentions of Jesus debate. I love BJ!

  75. 75
  76. 76
    Calouste says:

    @Gin & Tonic: In the Grand Tours, champions like Merckx and Hinault were not just the best athletes, they were rulers. If they thought they wanted to have an easy day on the road during one stage, it would be a lazy stage with the finish being half an hour or an hour behind schedule. And if you didn’t want to comply with that, they would make damn well sure that your team would have a really hard time winning any prizes for the rest of the tour.

  77. 77
    Mnemosyne says:


    Given that we have fairly firm evidence that other religious figures like Gautama Buddha and Mohammed actually existed, it would not be beyond the realm of possibility that there was a historical figure that the eventual Christian Jesus was based on. In fact, it seems more likely than not.

    But, as other people said, it wouldn’t prove that Christianity was All True any more than the known historical existence of Mohammed proves that Islam is All True.

  78. 78
    Abiding Jeff says:

    @The Dangerman: Where? I’ve never seen any contemporary record from the period in which he supposedly lived, everything is either a religious text or a supposition from somewhere else.

  79. 79
    Valdivia says:

    apparently the dead girlfriend is now twetting again. just weird.

  80. 80
    hamletta says:

    I’m wondering if the people who think Te’o was taken in have read the articles at Slate and Deadspin. They have both Te’os, junior and senior, feeding mawkish quotes to the sucker at Sports Illustrated.

  81. 81
    Darkrose says:

    @catclub: Not really contemporary, since at best, he was born around the time Joshua ben Joseph was supposedly executed. Also, the authenticity of the primary source is highly controversial among historians, with opinions ranging from “totally true” to “a complete forgery”.

  82. 82
    Ted & Hellen says:

    DougJ, why do you sock puppet and troll under assumed nyms?

    Really, what’s that all about?

  83. 83
    redshirt says:

    @Valdivia: Zombies are tweeting now too? Damn.

  84. 84
    Valdivia says:


    I guess it’s good that the Obama administration totally planed for the Zombie Apocalypse! :)

  85. 85
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Gin & Tonic: But of Tour winners, Greg LeMond always seemed to be a pretty decent guy – and the man of any girl’s dreams compared to Lance the impaler. Of course Lance did his best to put LeMond out of business, with some success IIRC.

  86. 86
    pattonbt says:

    Te’o was only in the spotlight (at least early in the season) because of the personal tragedy stuff. Whether this hoax was intentional (seems to be too much out there to say Te’o was duped) and the “death” intentionally timed with the grandmothers to garner Brett Favre like status for Te’o, I had never heard of him until the deaths.

    But sports yaks creamed their pants at the death story angle and how, because it’s ND, upstanding and awesome Te’o must be. Te’o was the “great white hope” (pardon the slightly inaccurate analogy) to put ND back on the football map (which the sports yaks of old have wanted to do since their demise). Te’o was this years Brett Favre. “How clean cut he is!”, “How devoted he is!”, “How strong he is to play through such personal tragedy!”. They loved it. ND would get back to its righful place atop the football pile and show those upstarts in the south who’s who. I hate to go with a racist angle, but the ND lovers always go for the pious against the wicked angle. “ND does it the right way!”. “ND does without ‘those’ players!”. Etc. (Yes, I do hate ND)

    They grabbed hold of this story and built Te’o up overnight into a god of pious perseverance.

    If Te’o was involved and cooked it up for that reason, the mans a genius troll (though, now found out he is in for a hellacious ride from fans for eternity).

    I have no clue if Te’o the football player is all they say he is on the field (dont really care) and ND followed up with an undefeated regular season against good-enough competition to earn the sports yaks desired return of the great and glorified ND (at least for this year). So, by years end, we would have ended up talking about Te’o one way or another because he was the team leader of an ND team that went undefeated. So he would have garnered the spotlight in any circumstance. But the “deaths” story helped get him the spotlight quicker and with a much better backstory.

  87. 87

    @The Dangerman & @patroclus: The long reference in Josephus has lots of distinctive language in common with the Emmaus narrative in Luke, enough that there’s more than likely a source behind both.

    That paper is sympathetic to Josephus himself copying the Emmaus source, but as this fellow Richard Carrier shows:

    Goldberg also shows that the Testimonium contains vocabulary and phrasing that is particularly Christian (indeed, Lukan) and un-Josephan. He concludes that this means either a Christian wrote it or Josephus slavishly copied a Christian source, and contrary to what Goldberg concludes, the latter is wholly implausible (Josephus would treat such a source more critically, creatively, and informedly).

    There’s a link to Carrier’s brand new paper showing the shorter reference in Josephus is likely “an accidental interpolation or scribal emendation.”

    So the Josephus testimony is just not reliable. Tacitus is better, but he doesn’t confirm very much other than the understood story about the origin of Christians during his time and nothing from an eyewitness standpoint in Judea.

  88. 88
  89. 89
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @pattonbt: The great white hope turned out to be Samoan?

  90. 90
    wasabi gasp says:

    Accidentally referring to one’s own grandmother as girlfriend may initially seem awkward to walk back.

  91. 91
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I actually think it’s funny, like cringe comedy funny, to imagine that the whole thing really was a hoax — ESPN was saying late today that another Samoan player said he had met a woman called Lannay Kukua (sp?) well before this whole Teo situation happened. So I’m imagining that it starts out as a hoax/prank, “hey, this hot chick totally wants you, here’s her picture,” and it works, but Teo turns out to be so pious and earnest and needy with the fake girlfriend that the hoaxers eventually have to come up with a way to end it, so they kill her off and have her tell him to concentrate on football, only to have Teo keep talking about it as a wonderful demonstration of how faith can help people in distress, so then they have to make him shut up all over again.

  92. 92
    Joel says:

    I love this shit. Too bad Notre Dame didn’t win the National Championship.

  93. 93
    Suffern ACE says:

    @wasabi gasp: ooh. Or it might have been the mental break he needed. The Perks of Being A Linebacker.

  94. 94
    Applejinx says:

    I’ve got to say, I find all this very upsetting.

    Reality matters…

    It feels like walking on a floor over a chasm and not being able to trust it’s really a floor. Reality is so ephemeral and fragile and to see it gleefully fucked with this way for benefit, or worse, for no coherent benefit…

    Some of what I do in life involves doing work for customers and being faithful to them going forward, remaining trustworthy, but this is in the context of a world where seemingly nothing means anything. I’ve got a key competitor who tends to stomp all over me, and he makes shit up wildly, all the time, and it proves an effective strategy for him.

    On a more balloon-juicey theme:
    Sumer is icumen in,
    Lhude sing Kekua!

  95. 95
    droog says:

    Hawaiian man fabricates parts of his past in order to be accepted by the peoples of the USA.

    How did this get past Donald Trump and Joe Arpaio?

  96. 96
    pattonbt says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Well, he was en Eagle Scout.

  97. 97
    Duane says:

    I can almost buy the being duped story, until he doesnt go to the funeral or calling hours or meet her family at her death part. If he was as emotionally involved with the long term online girlfriend as he claims, I just cant see how you wouldnt go for some sort of closure. To me that is where the whole thing falls apart, I can understand him claiming to have met her in person and all that, it would seem pretty lame to call her his girlfriend of a couple of years and he still hadnt met her. Oh well at least he didnt kill anyone.

  98. 98
    Fred says:

    Whiping up inspirational BS (and just plain lying for fun) seems to be an important part of being a Mormon. It’s like the magic underwear and being just plain wierd.
    Truth is I couldn’t get myself to finish the article because it’s too creepy. So maybe there is a rational explaination for this crap but I really don’t care. The worship of college football is inexplicable to me. Gangs of twenty year old guys giving each other brain damage and cripling joint injuries is just stoopid.
    Oh yeah, DUH! Brain damage. There ya go.

  99. 99
    WereBear says:

    People have always made stuff up; the Internet age simply makes it so much easier. We accept electronic substitutes for reality all the time.

    I was just reading an article about a woman who has been suffering from cancer for the last 20 years; getting meals brought to her, her place cleaned up, time off from work, all kinds of “perks.” Of course, it turned out, through three different jobs in three different places, that it was all made up. She never had actual treatments, never tripped the insurance, but conned her local co-workers and charitable networks into all this effort.

    Kinda Munchausen, without the effort of actually injuring herself. A cropped haircut, a kerchief, and a sad story, and the world is at your feet.

  100. 100
    JPL says:

    @Duane: Te’o would look great in a Raven uniform. The sad thing is while we mock and laugh, there is still a fake dead girl friend.

  101. 101
    WereBear says:

    @Fred: I agree about Mormonism; it tends to support and encourage such grandiose liberties with the truth.

    There was a famous forger who turned his disappointment at all the origin story lies into fake documents that “proved” the embarrassing truth. The bigwigs at Mormon headquarters gave him lots of money for them so they could lock them away in the Utah vaults.

    If he hadn’t been a degenerate gambler he could have made a living that way for decades. But he pushed it too far, and it turned into bombs and murder and exposure.

  102. 102
    Bernie says:

    I think his dead girlfriend lived in Canada (see “Avenue Q” for context)

  103. 103

    Obama was in Hawaii, either before or after Kenya, so maybe he was in on it.

  104. 104
    R. Johnston says:

    @catclub: The Josephus reference is a known fraud, inserted some centuries after the fact. It is not consistent in style or in belief with any of the rest of Josephus, it makes no sense in context, and the first refererence to it is by Eusebius, a known charlatan, a couple of centuries after Josephus died.

    Plus Josephus wasn’t a contemporary of the alleged Jesus.

    As for other alleged references, well, Yeshua was an absurdly common name and the remaining alleged references don’t actually offer anything that would distinguish them as being about the Yeshua supposed to be the Jesus of the bible..

  105. 105
    InvincibleIronyMan says:

    I know. I know, it’s serious.

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