The Lies About Manti Te'o

If the title of this post makes you think that I am writing it to defend Manti Te'o, the ostentatious All-Everything football linebacker from Notre Dame with the apparently imaginary internet girlfriend, get over it. As a Hoosier, I have had to endure the publicity campaign about this ostensibly superior athlete who should have been named the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, honoring America's best collegiate football player.  The campaign almost succeeded but he lost out to Johnny Football.

From the first time Te'o stepped on the football field at Punahou School in Honolulu as a sophomore, he made second team, all-state and according to Wiki, the awards kept coming.  When he arrived at Notre Dame, billed as the best linebacker prospect for 2009, he earned a starting role about four games into the season.  So we know that he has some football talent, but his press drumbeat mysteriously continued and by his junior year he was named winner of the Dick Butkus award as the nation's best linebacker.  Then these obvious promotions began to get him notice as a Heisman candidate. Strangely though, he does not have exceptional stats for the playing time he received - and I watched him get ripped up by the offensive line of the Alabama Crimson Tide for three quarters of the BCS championship game this month.

To prove my point about the performance level of Manti Te'o, I compiled his statistics and those of a backup linebacker and special teams player for the Indianapolis Colts by the name of  Mario Harvey, who was a pretty fair linebacker for lowly Marshall but who did not even get drafted by the NFL. Instead he earned his way onto the Colts roster after getting hurt while trying out for the Steelers in 2011. The statistics that follow fail to explain why all of the media's love has been expended on the Notre Dame linebacker:

Manti Te'o Tackles Def Interceptions Fumbles
Year Pos Solo Ast Tot Loss Sacks  Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds FF
2009 LB 29 34 63 5.5 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
2010 LB 66 67 133 9.5 1 0 0 0 3 0 0 1
2011 LB 62 66 128 13.5 5 0 0 0 2 0 0 1
2012 LB 55 58 113 5.5 1.5 7 35 5 0 11 1 8 0
Career 212 225 437 34 8.5 7 35 5 0 17 1 8 2
Mario Harvey Tackles Def Interceptions Fumbles
Year Pos Solo Ast Tot Loss Sacks Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds FF
2007 LB 28 25 53 3.5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
2008 LB 43 64 107 7 4.5 1 29 29 0 1 1 62 2
2009 LB 45 72 117 8.5 7 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
2010 LB 65 78 143 17.5 8.5 0 0 0 7 0 0 3
Career 181 239 420 36.5 21 1 29 29 0 9 1 62 6

Those of you who never heard of Mario Harvey do not know that he earned the nickname "Thumper" and ran a sub 4.5 second 40 yard sprint.  But what you can see from these stats is that he performed comparably to Te'o in all categories but for the seven interceptions that Manti got in 2012.  On the other hand, Mario's speed got 12.5 more QB sacks over four years. The FF stat means forced fumbles and shows strength in stripping the ball away from ball carriers. The players, BTW,  are about the same weight and height. I also wonder if the press has ever heard of Phillip Steward, a top-flight LB from Houston, who pretty much outshines Te'o in 2012 and for his career.

With everything else settling in on the tall tales and lies emanating from personal statements by Manti, his chance to be an early pick in round one of this year's NFL draft is going south - that is, if the media cannot save him and they are trying very hard.  Deadspin broke the girlfriend hoax and concluded:
  • There was no Lennay Kekua .
  • Lennay Kekua did not meet Manti Te'o after the Stanford game in 2009.
  • Lennay Kekua did not attend Stanford.
  • Lennay Kekua never visited Manti Te'o in Hawaii.
  • Lennay Kekua was not in a car accident.
  • Lennay Kekua did not talk to Manti Te'o every night on the telephone.
  • She was not diagnosed with cancer, did not spend time in the hospital, did not engage in a lengthy battle with leukemia.
  • She never had a bone marrow transplant.
  • She was not released from the hospital on Sept. 10, nor did Brian Te'o congratulate her for this over the telephone.
  • She did not insist that Manti Te'o play in the Michigan State or Michigan games, and did not request he send white flowers to her funeral.
  • Her favorite color was not white.
  • Her brother, Koa, did not inform Manti Te'o that she was dead. Koa did not exist.
  • Her funeral did not take place in Carson, Calif., and her casket was not closed at 9 a.m. exactly. She was not laid to rest.
  • Lennay Kekua's last words to Manti Te'o were not "I love you."