Updated: Nov 4, 2022
I've never been happier to eat crow in my life, Manti Te'o is the fucking man.
I remember when Te'o went to play at Notre Dame (ND), I had just started attending the University of Colorado - he was one of the best players in the nation. Here was this ferocious, insanely talented Linebacker who, for whatever reason (revealed in the Netflix documentary) after spending his life in Hawaii chose to attend college at the University of Notre Dame in snowy South Bend, Indiana.
In 2009 he had 63 tackles, good enough to put him 3rd all-time at Notre Dame. It only took Te'o 5 games to earn a spot as a starter on the defensive unit and shortly after that he was earning All-American honors.
When his career at Notre Dame was over, he would rack up:
34 TFL (tackles for a loss)
17 passes defended
8 1/2 sacks
His time in Indiana was nearly flawless. I emphasize "nearly" because personally, I don't give a fuck what controversy was surrounding him at the time, ND had no business being in the national title game against Nick Saban and the University of Alabama in 2013. Ghost girlfriend or not, they got their shit pushed in 42-14 in a snoozer of a game for everyone in the world minus the residents of Tuscaloosa.
Notre Dame got exposed, and every year they are seemingly ranked higher than they deserve but that's a story for another time.
If the aforementioned "ghost girlfriend" threw you off, I don't know what to tell you. Whether you're into college football or not, all of the attention was on Te'o towards the end of his collegiate career and none of it had to do with his play on the field. It all started with him dedicating his final season to his deceased girlfriend, who had lost her battle with cancer. All of this within a short window of time from Te'o losing his grandmother. Between his on-field dominance, charming personality, and humble attitude, the whole world was rooting for him. Shit, you could even easily make the argument that Te'o was nominated for the most prestigious award in college football - The Heisman Trophy - because of the situation with his girlfriend. We're all suckers for a good story, after all.
However, there was one glaring issue in all of this: Manti Te'o's girlfriend didn't exist.
I really, really want you to watch the Netflix documentary that chronicles this story. It's only two episodes and I promise you, "Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist" is 100% worth your time. Because of this, I will spare the detail(s) of how this came about, but what I can say is that the doc does a hell of a good job of explaining it and it's even crazier than you could even begin to imagine.
What I can and will say is that my reaction to the news at the time was the same as just about everyone else on the planet. "How in the fuck is this possible?!" Followed quickly with "there's no way in hell he didn't know about this" and "I think he's on this and if not, he's the dumbest person alive."
These weren't hot takes at the time, they were par for the course.
Well, I was wrong. And not just myself, but the world owes this dude a damn apology. Not only was Te'o not in on the scandal, but it ultimately fucked up his overall position in the NFL Draft impacting his professional career and his personal life even more. Te'o lost MILLIONS of dollars and was a public laughing stock for years to follow. The only thing missing was a proper tar and feathering to bring it back full circle.
The Netflix documentary sets it all straight. So, watch it. And to Manti Te'o:
I was wrong and I'm sorry. Also, your very real wife is a total babe and in the end, you won my dude.