The Catfish and the football player

What an online "hoax" reveals about the rest of us

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o after losing to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the BCS National Championship on Jan. 7.
(Image credit: Chris Szagola/ZUMA Press/Corbis)

Boy (stellar Notre Dame football linebacker) meets girl online. Boy falls in love; boy talks to girl on the phone. Boy allegedly meets with girl in person after a game in 2009. Boy tells ESPN he talks to girlfriend every night on the telephone; boy loses grandmother. Boy loses girl to leukemia within hours of losing his grandmother. Television producers see an angle; boy tweets his grief for girl; audience says "awww," Notre Dame has a hero; boy gets phone call from number he associates with the girl on Dec. 6; boy tells Notre Dame about formerly dead girl on Dec. 26; Notre Dame says nothing as media repeats boy-meets-girl story through the BCS National Championship game; Deadspin suggests boy perpetrated the hoax; Notre Dame says hoax was perpetrated on boy; girl's status is undetermined. Boy has many questions to answer.

Whom to believe? As they say on the texts: IDK.

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