All-American Noise

Manti Te'o

Last summer, “it was say it ain’t so, Joe!” Now, it’s “say it ain’t so, Te’o!”

Who are you supposed to trust anymore?

Some girls have daddy issues. Some kids have abandonment issues. Sports fans are now developing trust issues that are worse than they ever have been before.

Forget about performance enhancing drugs for a moment because no one ever really liked those guys, juice or no juice. Barry Bonds was a bigger diva than Mariah Carey. Alex Rodriguez had a certain smugness and arrogance that became even more apparent when he began fielding on the left side of the infield with Derek Jeter. Lance Armstrong was a ruthless sociopath.

Prior to the confirmation of those noted steroid users, aside from the naive Lance Armstrong backers, we already knew that we weren’t supposed to like them. They weren’t respected and revered for their persona. They were respected and revered for their freakish physical abilities. Abilities that turned out to be a little too freakish to be true.

As I wrote in August, the prominent use of steroids is leading fans to jump to the most skeptical of conclusions when great moments in sports are witnessed. Despite the awe factor not being as awe-inspiring as it was 15 years ago, sports fans would always have the good guys to root for. There are people who could be role models for kids and show us that decency and integrity is still left out in the world.

That constant is going away too.

It has been well documented that Manti Te’o was the embodiment of the perfect student-athlete. He was the team leader and the driving force behind the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Te’o visited sick children in the hospital, stayed up all night to talk with his cancer-ridden “girlfriend” on the phone and he played his heart out despite the death of his grandmother and girlfriend on the same day.

Manti Te’o was the ideal Heisman Trophy candidate. He provided inspiration to what I’m sure amounted to, at the very least, thousands of people across North America. In a college football off-season saturated with the horrifying story of Jerry Sandusky and Penn State, Manti Te’o was the anti-Jerry Sandusky. If Jerry Sandusky was everything that is wrong with this world, Manti Te’o was everything that is right with this world.

Everyone bought into the Manti Te’o narrative. Hook, line and sinker. How could we not?

It has been said that the media should have been more diligent. There had to be someone who should have seen the red flags. But that wasn’t the case and it shouldn’t have been the case.

This wasn’t your 37-year-old cousin who still lives in the basement of his mom’s home. When he tells you that he has a girlfriend, maybe you don’t start planning bachelor party. However, when the Mormon all-American linebacker Manti Te’o tells you he has a girlfriend, there is no reason to question it. In the world of sports, who could have been more trustworthy than Manti Te’o was just a few short days ago?

Thanks to the good people at Deadspin, it will be hard for us to fully trust ever again.

We don’t know what Manti Te’o has done. It’s difficult to believe his story when it takes him 2 days and a private interview with an ESPN yes man to tell the “truth.” For all we know, Manti Te’o could go all George Costanza on us and speak out saying “it’s not a lie, if you believe it.” What we do know though is that Manti Te’o hasn’t done anything illegal or malicious to harm another human being.

Nevertheless, we also know that Manti Te’o is no longer the man you want your daughter to bring home. He isn’t the Ray Lewis of college football. Those leadership qualities that were supposed to separate him from other NFL prospects, is complete bogus. Manti Te’o isn’t the guy we thought he was.

What is most unfortunate though is that the next, pre-fake girlfriend saga, Manti Te’o type character to dominate the sports headlines will be met with more cynic’s than he ever would have been before the events over the last calendar year occurred. This is the case because the last people we would contemplate doing any wrong, the people that we put on a pedestal, have ruined our faith.

Joe Paterno and Manti Te’o are two of the most recent prominent sports figures to go from idol to rock bottom in the span of 24 hours. Except, whether it was dramatically or quietly, they haven’t been the only ones to disappoint us. Tiger Woods was chased out of his house by his wife with a 9-iron. Derek Jeter gave swag bags to his one-night stands. Steve Nash cheated on his pregnant wife with a woman who was almost half his age.

I still love Derek Jeter, Steve Nash and Tiger Woods. They’re just too damn likeable. But they aren’t the ultimate good guys that they were portrayed to be.

It’s the cold reality of celebrity and over the past couple of years sports fans have tasted this very bitter reality. The vast expansion of media over the last decade has placed these figures in the brightest of spotlights. We don’t like to think of them as human beings but that is what they are, flawed and everything.

The all-American model is a standard that so few can reach and to expect that out of athletes who have been thrust into the center of attention is ridiculous, yet we carry on with this practice. What has happened is that social media and the paparazzi has created a world where we can no longer be ignorantly blissful towards the celebrities that we have placed this god-like status upon.

Alexander Pope once said that “to err is human, to forgive is divine.” Over the years, the public has, for the most part, proven itself to be very forgiving of sports figures that have chosen the wrong path. However, to continue trusting them in the first place?

That’s a whole other matter.

Agree? Disagree? Reply in the comments section below or e-mail me at

Also, you can follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

About Chris Ross
Questions, comments, suggestions? Send yours to Follow me on twitter @paintstheblack

8 Responses to All-American Noise

  1. Jsportsfan says:

    Blame Notre Dame for creating a myth that is unattainable to every student athlete. They let this situation get way out of hand. Te’o was proven to be a fraud on the field thanks to Alabama and now he’s a fraud off the field.

  2. I’m looking to see which purveyor within the adult entertainment industry will be looking to use Manti Teo as a paid up endorser of one of their “sex toys” , in this case a life sized latex doll with all of the well proportioned genitalia .

    Here’s fictional character with his symbiotic mate (a latex doll ).

    When Manti chooses to put on his “real big boy pants ” perhaps then, he might actually find time to have a fulfilling relationship with a real female , rather than an imaginary one ? Good God almighty , surely there’s enough ” females ” on the Notre Dame campus , that Teo could have been involved with ?

  3. Notre Dame AD , Jack Swarbrick , has been quick to jump to the defense of Manti Te`o , but how is it , that he cannot step forward and apologize publicly for Notre Dame’s embarrassing and woefully inept performance in their 42-14 blowout loss to Alabama in the BCS title game ? I guess we now know where Swarbrick’s priorities now lay .

  4. J-Dub says:

    I have five questions about the whole Te’o story, and i’d be curious to get your thoughts on them. Jsportsfan caught on to my theory right away.

  5. bklynboy59 says:

    nice article I agree, while you can marvel about the skill on the field it is quite another story off it. Nice job.

  6. It’s why, as adult sports fans, we become a little more cynical when each one of these stories breaks and why ultimately, we learn to understand what’s really important.

    It’s just up to each of us to figure what that is on our own.

  7. CR

    Left you a response on the most recent I’d completed , so as and when ready do return to leave an additional comment . Teo hasn’t shown the maturity level for him to be taken seriously as an adult .

    Off the beaten path , as a law student , you must’ve been aware that Armstrong has also defrauded the US Postal Service and US government ?

    Tophatal ………….

  8. Chris, even if Teo doesn’t get in trouble, his draft stock will fall. Instead of being a top 5 pick at best he will be in the top 20, but there is a very good chance of him falling into the second. You have to look at the teams that need a Linebacker, I have a feeling that Teo might fall into the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals. I’m not trying to say that is bad because I am a Bengals fan myself, but I’m sure he would want to be drafted in the top 5. Please go onto

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