Monti Te’o to ESPN: ‘Faith is believing in something that you most likely can’t see’

JEFF HAYNES REUTERS Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te’o speaks during media day for the 2013 BCS National Championship … Continued



Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te’o speaks during media day for the 2013 BCS National Championship NCAA football game in Miami, Florida, January 5, 2013.

For years, Notre Dame football linebacker Manti Te’o has been the focus of media attention for many reasons — his Mormon faith, his leadership as co-captain, his many awards making him “the most decorated player in college football history.”

But a still-evolving story in Deadspin today, with news of a dead girlfriend hoax and questions about Te’o’s culpability in the tale, is drawing attention to him for a whole other set of reasons.

The short version of a too-complex-to-summarize, got-to-read-it-to-believe-it story comes from the AP:

Many parts of that story do not appear to be true.

In an emotional speech to his fellow students the week after the deaths of his grandmother and apparent girlfriend, Te’o spoke of his faith. A practicing Mormon, Te’o passed on the customary, early-20’s Latter-day Saint mission to instead return to the football field where, his bishop told CNN, he thought he could do more good for the faith in the short-term. Here’s what he said to his fellow Irish (Te’o’s speech starts at 2:14):

You can watch more about the Te’o’s story, as it was then understood, in ESPN’s October interview with the football star. Te’o said:.

In the video, Te’o also gives his own accounting of how the tragedy unfolded.

Notre Dame’s subsequent win against Michigan was held, it was said at the time, “on the same day [his girlfriend] was buried.” Te’o explained to ESPN what he saw in the game’s spiritual significance:

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  • Vanka

    This story confirms what Joseph Smith and Mitt Romney taught us: that Mormons are among the world’s most gullible as well as dishonest people.

  • MarkDCMD

    You are absolutely correct! I don’t follow college football and I had no idea who this was, I just knew it was a fascinating story. First thing I thought was “Wow, how gullible is this guy, oh wait he’s Hawaiian… hmmm I bet he’s Mormon too.” The LDS Church has long preyed on Pacific Islanders as potential converts. That’s why BYU has a campus there. Specious beyond belief.


    ‘Faith is believing in something that you most likely can’t see’

    And obviously never taking the time to verify whether it is really true or not.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    Could it be any more obvious that Te’o is gay and that under the combined pressure of two monolithic institutions in Notre Dame and the Mormon Church felt compelled to invent a long distance girlfriend in order to keep people from asking questions? When you come across a story that is this abjectly absurd, just follow your nose to find out where religion enters the picture.

  • PhillyJimi1

    It makes sense to me. I was thinking the same thing. It keeps the pressure off because obvioously All-American football players has babes clinging to them. This way it is easier.

  • PhillyJimi1

    Don’t single out the Mormon’s all faiths are silly. Everyone is gullible when you’re 2 years old and told god and Santa are real. The only excpetion is they don’t tell you god isn’t real when you grow up. As if a zombie savior is really needed to atone for the fruit eating crime of a rib woman who got tricked by a talking snake.

  • mobilemavy

    I love that the moronic dimwits in the news failed to expose this.

  • jacqueline90

    You’ve got to be kidding me.. What age do we live in that Mormons still suffer persecution for just believing in a deity? Te’o’s religion isn’t in question, it’s whether or not he had a part in this elaborate hoax. His sexuality is completely his business, and the ignorance of these people commenting is astounding. Leave the religion out of this.. Grow up.

  • SoniaF

    I have no idea exactly where this story is going and how it will ultimately unfold, just noting that unlike most active, practicing Latter-Day-Saint young men with great athletic abilities, this guy chose NOT to defer his professional career to serve a two-year mission first which brings into question whether or not he puts God first in his life. It does not necessarily rule that out, but the fact that he is willing to fudge a story about a girlfriend who never existed….hmmm…. I would say he certainly does NOT represent the majority of faithful Mormons out there, who put a great deal of stock in having integrity and being honest in all they do and say. It will be interesting to see how he proceeds from here and whether of not he humbles himself and openly repents or goes on as though it is no big deal. THAT will reveal the true content of his character.


    “…the majority of faithful Mormons out there, who put a great deal of stock in having integrity and being honest in all they do and say.”

    The fact that you can say that with a straight face after the Romney campaign is ROFLMAO.

  • Rongoklunk

    “Faith is believing what you know ain’t true”. Mark Twain.

  • Rongoklunk

    Right on Philly. The only brain that uncritically accepts the god hypothesis is the child’s brain. And when the child becomes a man the belief stays…even though it’s a lie which makes no more sense than the Tooth Fairy theory, or the Boogieman hypothesis.
    As far as we know there are no gods and never were any. Every god we ever heard of was man made, from Apollo to Zeus and from Allah to Vishnu and the whiteman’s generic God.
    Embrace the truth folks. Gods are by definition – mythical.

  • Ottie

    Does “having integrity and being honest” include professing belief in a patently preposterous creed based on the tale of a New York State miscreant who claimed to have found golden tablets inscribed in a language only a mysterious angel could translate for him and no one could see the tablets but him? The guy who “wrote” a book that is obviously a cut and paste job from various other religions mixed in with the imaginings of the miscreant himself, a failed local con man?

  • spencer1

    Philly: As Mark Twain said (more or less), faith is believing in something you know ain’t true.

  • Ottie

    The lemmings of the media will apparently swallow anything. Oh, where is H. L. Mencken when we need him? P.T. Barnum said something like “No one ever went broke underestimating the gullibility of the American people.”

  • Ottie

    Or believing a star football player who was inventing a hoax to help generate sympathy for his Heisman quest?

  • Ottie

    Isn’t the religion the greater hoax?

  • di89

    Is it absolutely required that one do the mission first, or do they tell people they have the option but it’s heavily “encouraged” to make a statement about Putting God First? In that case is it really putting God first to take the time off, or is it putting statement-making first? And is it really a “choice”?

    Relationship with God “first” in the sense that other things flow from that…sure…but it can sound like God is jealous of the other things you do that are also important…like God is going to give you a talent just to see if you’re “good” enough to set it aside. Kind of like people being told they aren’t “putting their children first” if they do things for their spouses or themselves, like it’s a competition.

  • leibowde84

    He’s a chump … whether he knew about the hoax or not. How a grown man could think that he was in love with a girl who he had never met is both pathetic and unbelievable. But, that being said, he is still an amazing football player, and this story has nothing to do with football. And, the fact that he lied even though he claims to be religious is not surprising, as it is the custom.

  • Saoirse1974

    I guess having a girlfriend is also believing in something you can’t see for him.


    Just like his god.


    jacqueline90: Making fun of peoples’ idiocy is not “persecution”. It’s a tough job.

  • Watcher1

    Beat me to it. Must be making a case for Te’o being a “good Christian”, he’ll believe anything.

  • Watcher1

    Christians will apparently swallow anything.

  • readysetgo

    The guy keeps scheduling interviews, which is a big part of his problem. Please, Manti, for your own sake, just clam up!

  • Gregory70s

    @Ottie: Your comments are not only uninformed and wrong, but offensive to millions who know the man you attempt to malign as a prophet of God, whose teachings have inspired them to lives of goodness, service to others, and following the example of Christ. Why it is that people like yourself feel the need to spend their time tearing down the beliefs of others, I must admit escapes me, but folks like you have said much the same of Moses, Abraham, Noah, and other prophets throughout the ages. Those who put their faith in themselves before God will always speak ill of that which they don’t understand… until the rains come.

  • Gregory70s

    @Philly: Ironically, you actually do have faith… but in yourself and your own feeble mind’s ability to work out truth. When we all stand before God someday, you will know you’ve deceived yourself. Even beginning to comprehend the vastness of the universe, the complexity and obvious design entailed in its grandeur, including the human body itself, leads to no other conclusion but that faith in a higher power is far easier to achieve than faith in the feeble musings of a human mind, like your own for instance.

  • ClarkKent1

    I believe that my mind is real and exists. There’s good evidence for that.. And “it” considers competing theories and makes decisions based on as much information and evidence as I have. I conclude there is not sufficient evidence that any god exists.
    You use your roughly equivalent mind to conclude that a god (which one?) exists. So your similarly “feeble” mind thinks it has worked out truth. Do you see the problem here?

  • ClarkKent1

    “I love you guys”


    The rains come every day, dimwit. They have for hundreds of millions of years.

    Your mythological patriarchs mean nothing. Time for you to accept reality into your life.

  • lifelongdemocrat

    The dude’s a liar who got caught up in self worship. He is following in the footsteps of another great Mormon liar named Willard Mitt Romney.

  • slowe111

    since mormons and christians, indeed all theists, are “trained” in the imaginary arts, is this story really surprising? The practice it with every prayer, with every chruch service. Their coaches for this sport are their preachers, priests and pastors. Children are taught it by parents, Some learn it in schools, and our government, our secular government, seems to endorse it with every “God Bless America, oath on a bible, “In God We Trust”, etc. etc.

  • DrWaffles

    The government is constitutionally banned from restricting religious rights. That doesn’t force them into a completely atheistic appearance. You can’t prevent politicians from displaying some sign of religion just to prevent them from having a tiny and completely ignorable influence on anyone.