Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o is either the most harebrained person on the planet, or a con artist of Charles Ponzi proportions.
Most are insisting it's the latter.
However, instead of accusing Te'o of being a con man, I am going to take his and Notre Dame's claim that the Irish linebacker was a victim of a cruel hoax, one which involved the death of his supposed girlfriend back in September, that gripped a nation with emotion, and catapulted him into household name status.
I will ignore all of his and his father's past quotes about meeting up with her in Hawaii, talking with her for eight hours a night, every night for four months while she was dying of leukemia. I will ignore the stories about how Te'o said he and his girlfriend met in 2009 following a Notre Dame game at Stanford.
I will put aside his tearjerking stories about his everlasting love for her — which he shared with Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Jim Rome and many others — during his Heisman Trophy run following her death. And I will discard his comments to ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski to basically back off when the writer wanted to interview his girlfriend's family as part of his story.
As far as I'm concerned, Te'o was a victim of a cruel joke.
So, if he isn't a con artist like so many are claiming, then it must mean he's a world-class imbecile, right? Wait, I thought Notre Dame didn't allow those in their institution?
I mean, how in three years of talking for hours and hours on end — and one year of an actual "love of my life" relationship — had he never met her ... not even once? How on Earth could you be that in love with a person you have never met face to face? Never spent a minute of your lives together? Never seen her lips move as she's speaking to you? Has he not heard of Skype or FaceTime?
He spoke about how she was the most beautiful woman he has ever met. He allowed the nation to believe that their love story was that of Cleopatra and Mark Antony. BUT HE NEVER MET HER!
He didn't go to her funeral after she passed. He didn't meet her parents or any other member of her family following her death. As publicized of a romance as it has been, wouldn't he think that her family would want to meet their daughter's greatest love?
It's just unfathomable. Only a complete numbskull would get taken this badly.
Okay, who am I kidding? Te'o's not dumb ... He's a liar. He's a snake. He tried to pull the wool over our eyes.
Why did he do it? The timing of it tells me it was about building his legend, his popularity, putting together a storybook tale to grab our hearts as he vied to become the first defensive player to ever win the Heisman Trophy. And he almost accomplished it, finishing runner-up in the voting.
But karma caught up with him, as it always seems to do. Sure, it's one thing to fake having a girlfriend, but to have her die from a battle with leukemia and profit from it, is what makes him a slug.
Rightfully, Te'o will never live this down. His legacy will no longer be that of an inspirational soul whose determination and heart to get past tragedy helped lead Notre Dame back to prominence.
No, his legacy is now that of a liar. A con artist. A snake in the grass.
Just like his fake girlfriend ... Te'o's legend has perished.
And unfortunately for him, that isn't a hoax.