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Te’o Provides a Classic ‘Gotcha Moment’ for All

Fort Worth, Texas — Don’t ever test me on this. If you test me, you lose.

For any amount you can count, I’m betting my BS can out-BS your best BS, so don’t come around here attempting to slip your weak stuff past the BS king.

Gotcha. Every time you attempt it, I gotcha.

But say what?

“Oh, no. That’s awful. I’m really sorry, man, to hear this.”

“I can’t imagine how a star football player has overcome this kind of news, and continued to perform at such a high standard. I mean, your beloved grandmother died, and then the same day, six hours later, the love of your life, your girlfriend, the lovely and talented Lennay Kekua, she passed away, a young victim of cancer.

“Your team is undefeated, you are the defensive star of that team, your strong character references are almost legendary and I know that quarterback down in Texas is suddenly the rave thing of college football, but when it comes to my Heisman vote, man, I gotta give it to . . .”

OK, I’d have been duped.

For those asking, in the wake of the Manti Te’o-Notre Dame massive hoax of the year, how a national sports media could not have done just a smidgen of investigative journalism on this Te’o character, well ...

In a weak excuse, I never wrote the Te’o story, never talked about the grandmother (who really did die), or Miss Kekua, who — thanks to Deadspin.com — we now know not only didn’t die, she never even existed.

Besides, on football performance alone, I thought Johnny Manziel was the clear No. 1 choice for the Heisman, and that’s the way the voting went, with Te’o No. 2, actually a remarkable voting feat for a defensive player.

But I’d have been duped anyway.

Manti would have had me at the first mention of death.

Nobody would lie about that. Would they?

You tell me you’ve had a tragic loss, even a double loss six hours apart and, no, I’m not going to be calling around asking the county morgue for death certificates.

The king of BS would have taken the fall on this one, the same as many others in the national sports media who did promote the tear-jerker of a story. I actually feel sorry for the late grandmother, who is now linked to this mess.

In our business, it’s been a heck of a week for liars, starting with Lance Armstrong going on Oprah.

With Lance, and with his local ties, and what he was doing on a bike, and the hundreds of millions he raised to aid cancer patients, it would have been nice to believe him, but you wouldn’t have bet that way.

Despite all the denials over all the years from him about being PED-fueled on that bike, he was participating in and dominating the cheatin’-est sport in the world. In bike racing, “everybody’s doing it” is actually the truth. Sure, there was doubt about him doing what he did while being clean.

And he wasn’t clean. Finally, Lance has officially taken his long, long fall from American icon.

But Manti Te’o?

His denial, backed up by Notre Dame, is that Manti was a victim of a vicious Internet hoax, where what he thought was a girlfriend he grew to love was actually somebody on the other end of a Dell, tricking him.

But if you read the stories, starting with the Deadspin report, and then follow a football season’s worth of quotes from Manti, the evidence is immense that Manti was the one orchestrating and/or cooperating fully, with the dead girlfriend BS.

A football stud, and a nice-looking young man with an impeccable reputation, is on a campus full of girls (48 percent of the student body at Notre Dame is female, a school that was all-male until 1972) and this guy’s heavy romantic interest centered on a girl on the Internet?

A girl, by the way, he now claims he never actually met, despite numerous other suggestions this season from Manti that they had met.

As a friend of mine said Thursday, “This guy is either a sicko or a loser.”

Right now, I’d vote yes on both.

On another front, I was asking around the NFL on Thursday about how this story would impact Te’o’s draft stock in April. Even after Manti had an awful game against Alabama to close out his college career, most mock drafts have him as a first-rounder, some even in the top 10.

The NFL guys I talked to said red flags are now flying in a strong breeze.

“There’s obviously a lot of new work to be done on him, character-wise,” said one.

“If it’s a case of him being a hoax victim, how could he have been that naïve? Would you invest a first-round pick on someone that naïve?

“And if he was in on the hoax, and even orchestrated it, as some evidence suggests, what kind of personal insecurities are we dealing with here? What else is in that closet? With this kid, there were no character red flags until now.

“But at the moment, I’d say anyone in the league would have serious issues that need to be explored before you’d think first-rounder.”

Meanwhile, I’m also having my personal BS meter checked. I think it needs an overhaul. Manti Te’o would have had me at death.