NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Manti Te’o told Katie Couric that the feelings he had for what turned out to be a fake, online girlfriend were real, and he reiterated that he had nothing to do with the hoax.
The All-American linebacker said he was truly sorrowful and pained after finding out that the woman he knew as Lennay Kekua died in September.
Te’o’s once-heartwarming tale of inspired play after the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend on the same day in September was exposed as a bizarre hoax on Jan. 16. Deadspin.com broke the news that the woman Te’o had claimed to be in love with did not exist.
Te’o, who led Notre Dame to a spot in the national championship, has admitted that when his girlfriend’s “death” became a story, he misled reporters into thinking he had met her in the flesh.
The star player recounted the whole, strange episode in an interview with Couric that was broadcast on Thursday.
The person that Te’o said was pretending to be his online girlfriend told the linebacker, “I love you” in voicemails that were played during his interview with Couric.
The hour-long talk show featured three voicemails that Te’o claims were left for him last year. He provided the messages to Couric and said that they were from the person he believed to be Kekua.
After the first message was played, Te’o said, “It sounds like a girl, doesn’t it?”
“It does,” Couric responded.
The interview was the first done on-camera by the All-American since the hoax was reported.
Te’o is projected to be selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft in April.
Did you watch the interview? How did you think Te’o came off in it? Sound off with your thoughts and comments in the section below…
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)