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ESPN releases edited transcript of Manti Te’o interview

Former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o speaks with ESPN's Jeremy Schaap as his attorney looks on in Florida in this handout photo Reuters

Last night in an off-camera interview, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o spoke to ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap about the Lennay Kekua hoax. The interview went over two hours and details of Te’o’s story began coming out around midnight.

Te’o denied having any role in the hoax — Kekua, Te’o’s girlfriend, supposedly passed away last September only to suddenly and surprisingly re-emerge in Te’o’s life on Dec. 6 through a phone call —  but did admit he tailored the story of his relationship with Kekua to suggest that they had met in person when in fact they had not.

The interview left plenty of questions unanswered and definitely raised quite a few more. The few facts that this bizarre story does have are still convoluted.

ESPN posted an edited transcript of the conversation. You can view it HERE. It is far, far too long to even begin to try to break down. As with everything else in this story, we encourage you to read it and decide for yourself.

As a reference, here’s the original Deadspin story.

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53 Responses to “ESPN releases edited transcript of Manti Te’o interview”
  1. be4bama says: Jan 19, 2013 1:32 PM

    Manti is a terrible liar…..terrible lindbacker too.

  2. lsuzilla says: Jan 19, 2013 1:35 PM

    ESPN is doing their best to cover for this kid. It’s frappuccino like this that makes me wish ESPN had more competition.

  3. sadskinsfan89 says: Jan 19, 2013 1:36 PM

    espn is trying to help him cover things. off camera interview? edited transcripts? cmon ppl dont be so naive

  4. lsuzilla says: Jan 19, 2013 1:40 PM

    ESPN is doing their best to cover for this kid. It’s frappuccino like this that makes me wish ESPN had more competition.
    Thanks iphone auto text corrector 😦

  5. buccobrigade says: Jan 19, 2013 1:51 PM

    Haters gonna hate. If he played somewhere else, say for an SEC team, everyone would believe him.

  6. canetic says: Jan 19, 2013 1:52 PM

    No inconsistencies Schaap? At the beginning of the story Te’o says he has been off of all technology, including Twitter, since Wednesday. Later he says this guy Ronaiah contacted him on Wednesday via Twitter.

  7. normtide says: Jan 19, 2013 1:53 PM

    Espn removed some parts of the story they originally reported. No reason has been given.

  8. amosalanzostagg says: Jan 19, 2013 1:53 PM

    Key word, “edited”. You don’t think that ND is behind this to protect the brand? Just like ND did to the Seeberg family, the school comes first, the truth second.

    First rule in a conspiracy, control the message. The AD started it with that joke of a press conference. Crocodile tears for a fake girlfriend, but none for Liz Seeberg? Puh-leeze.

    Second rule, have a team of Investigators (paid by Notre Dame) try to implicate other people other than Notre Dame. Information comes out just two days AFTER the press conference?
    Can you say manufactured, kids? The press conference before the National Championship game in which Te’o REPEATS the lies he knows is false? Na, Notre Dame is far too ethical
    and forthright to ALLOW falsehoods to be repeated,right?

    Third rule, make sure the higher ups don’t know, so “Plausible Deniability” can be an excuse to the question “What did you know and when did you know it?” (See Penn State).

    Fourth rule,play hardball, make sure the players know of the consequences if you don’t play ball with them. “We’re Notre Dame, and don’t you forget it!”

    Domers are real proud of their team. Alleged rapists and liars.

    Pathetic, Notre Dame, just pathetic.

  9. sadskinsfan89 says: Jan 19, 2013 1:54 PM

    well y did he still talk about her dying from cancer even after he claims he knew it was a hoax? cats lying. pathological liar.

  10. amosalanzostagg says: Jan 19, 2013 1:56 PM

    buccobrigade wrote on: Jan 19, 2013 1:51 PM

    Haters gonna hate. If he played somewhere else, say for an SEC team, everyone would believe him.

    No, the SEC teams have REAL National Championships and REAL girlfriends.

    Sucks to be Notre Dame

  11. canetic says: Jan 19, 2013 1:56 PM

    And at the end he says he doesn’t want anything to be done to Ronaiah by the police, he just “hopes he learns from all of this.” Te’o is publicly humiliated, supposedly duped for YEARS by Ronaiah, possibly costing him tons of money in the draft, a guy who has allegedly pulled this scam on many of Te’os family members, but it’s cool, he just hopes the guy learns a lesson. OK, right.

  12. amosalanzostagg says: Jan 19, 2013 2:02 PM


    Could you imagine the smack on the football field IF this had come out BEFORE the National Championship game? Forget the blogs, Te’o would have been more humiliated on the football field than the undressing Bama showed to him in the actual game.

  13. atxcane says: Jan 19, 2013 2:03 PM

    lsuzilla says:
    Jan 19, 2013 1:40 PM
    ESPN is doing their best to cover for this kid. It’s frappuccino like this that makes me wish ESPN had more competition.
    Thanks iphone auto text corrector


    The weird thing is, I didn’t even notice. 😀

  14. ningenito78 says: Jan 19, 2013 2:04 PM

    He’s gay and he and his family invented the girlfriend for cover. Boom. End of story.

  15. lionpride10 says: Jan 19, 2013 2:07 PM

    I just looked it over but I am wondering why he was asking around about her 2 years ago and people were telling him, “she’s real bro, she’s real.”
    In my entire life I have never asked someone if another person is real. If he was oblivious to the whole thing than why would he question if someone is real.

  16. ttalarico says: Jan 19, 2013 2:10 PM

    It’s too bad this site doesn’t require an IQ of at least 40 to post. If it did, we won’t have to listen to all of your bullshit!
    Have some compassion for this guy and don’t think everyone is out to screw someone else. He made a mistake. Granted a big one but an innocent one. Forget about hating ND and look at it as if you we’re Manti’s father. If you don’t see it differently then you have no compassion.

  17. thejabronisayz says: Jan 19, 2013 2:10 PM

    Did anyone other than myself actually read the entire transcript of the conversation?

    If not, I would encourage you all to do so. Either he and his representatives hashed out every nook, cranny, and detail to explain away everything – making him perhaps the greatest and smartest actor I have ever seen – or he’s telling the truth.

    And if you’ve ever seen the MTV show Catfish, it’s really not that hard to believe that he’s telling the truth – even if it does consequently make him the dumbest, most naive and gullible person on the face of the planet.

  18. sdemp says: Jan 19, 2013 2:11 PM

    Why should the police be involved. . . exactly, there has been no crime committed by anyone. ND haters will think he was behind it, which doesn’t really matter, just don’t be mad you got “catfished” too.

    People with an open mind will understand that this stuff happens all the time in the “real world” and there is hardly a story here, who cares!?

    The media ran with the story from beginning without doing the required fact checking and now looks bad. . . look what Ifound, the story.

    Haters gonna Hate.

  19. firstand98 says: Jan 19, 2013 2:20 PM

    i find it interesting that ND would throw themselves in front of this train for this kid that is going pro in april. what did they have to gain? the only involvement they had according to deadspin was some shoddy journalism.

    so why does swarbrick come out on wednesday and lay the foundation for Te’o? seems kind of panick-y. like if you let the kid talk first he may say something that you can’t “un-say” or lie away.

    i STRONGLY believe that lennay kekua was concocted by the university and Te’o to funnel cash into his bank account under the guise of his girlfriend loaning him money that he wouldn’t have to repay due to her death. why else would a 5-star mormon recruit that by all accounts is close to his family in hawaii choose a catholic school in indiana? he had visits with USC, UCLA, Oregon & Stanford back in 2009, when notre dame was still mired in a dismal stretch. i’m not saying the university doesn’t have pull (it does – lots), but the choice seems pretty odd. also, the lennay kekua name was created in 2009, when Te’o made his commitment. pretty coincidental.

    oh, this also speaks nothing as to why this kid would risk draft stock and potentially millions of dollars because he’s what – afraid to say he went along with the hoax as a lapse in judgement? what’s the worst that could happen? court of public opinion would condemn you for a bit but WE MOVE ON. for him to be prolonging this nonsense seems like it has more to do with protection than anything else. and he’s not doing a very good job of protecting himself.

  20. amosalanzostagg says: Jan 19, 2013 2:24 PM

    Produce the receipt for the flowers.

    Release your phone records to show the phone calls to her.

    Manti is a liar.

  21. kozbee says: Jan 19, 2013 2:33 PM

    Blarney stone and a little green man told him to lie.
    No rainbow with a pot of Gold in Te`o story.

    sad little leprechaun

  22. amosalanzostagg says: Jan 19, 2013 2:33 PM

    If Manti has been off electronic devices since Wednesday, how was the interview set up? Telegram?
    Smoke signals? ND sports information department?

    Manti isn’t bright enough to have the parameters set up. Late Friday night interview? Off camera? One interviewer? Editing?

    ND fingerprints all over this puppy.

  23. normtide says: Jan 19, 2013 2:41 PM

    So, the fan base that brought us catholics vs cousins and spent a month bashing southerners wants compassion shown? Its amazing what a big time ass whipping did to their attitude.

    My favorite part of the story: the death of his fake girlfriend affected his play in the title game.

  24. nuggets43 says: Jan 19, 2013 2:45 PM

    Anyone else get the feeling that the people perpetuating the idea the Manti was in on it are conspiracy theorists and ND haters? It just so happens that ND haters and conspiracy theorists make up about 80% of the population. The people saying Manti was in on it are also birthers or truthers depending on their political a persuasion. No matter what information comes out, they will believe Manti was in on it. Everything is part of the lie, part of the conspiracy. ESPN and Notre Dame play the role of the government in this conspiracy, as the all powerful controllers of our universe trying to maintain the status quo and push their version of events for self benefit.

  25. takingbovadasmoney says: Jan 19, 2013 2:52 PM

    So Notre Dame’s investigator never spoke with Te’o? Was the investigator hired to say what Notre Dame wanted him to say? Should I say “investigator” or alleged investigator? Between Lizzy Seeburg, Declan Sullivan, Te’o, and this “investigation” I am beginning to think Notre Dame is making SMU and The U look squeaky clean.

  26. foreverlsu says: Jan 19, 2013 2:56 PM

    No, nuggets. You’re off your rocker defending this clown. Until Manti answers questions to fill in all of the gaping holes in his story, he will continue to be abused. He wanted the attention and he’s got it.

    Notre Dame is a joke for buying into this garbage. Investigate a dead girlfriend hoax but don’t even investigate the rape allegation against a ND player. Swarbrick crying? You kiddin me?!

  27. Deb says: Jan 19, 2013 2:59 PM

    Long but enlightening read.

    Most interesting details:

    Te’o never told the press about his tragic dying girlfriend. Brian Kelly broke that story without Te’o’s knowledge and the linebacker suddenly found himself answering media questions about his private relationship.

    And when Te’o came to Kelly, telling him something was wrong with Lennay’s story and she might be alive, “Coach Kelly just said she’s dead. That’s how we’re going to go about it. She’s dead. When you come in, we’ll talk about it. That’s all he said.”

    Sooo … if Te’o was involved in a private online relationship that he did not release to the media, then he was not angling for Heisman votes. But Brian Kelly was. And if Te’o suddenly found himself being questioned by reporters about his private online relationship, I can see why he’d want to make it seem as though it was more than just a cyber thing. If Kelly was telling him to proceed as though the girl was dead, period, that would also explain why he was still talking about her death after reporting the red flags to Notre Dame.

  28. normtide says: Jan 19, 2013 3:03 PM

    Foreverlsu- best statement yet. He wanted attention and now he’s got it. Even his teammates said they knew thus was fake and he just wanted the attention.

  29. thekatman says: Jan 19, 2013 3:15 PM

    There are so many NCAA infractions being violated with this case it’s sad. ND cover up, Manti breaking ND student honor code and no disciplinary action by the school…, 2 violations there, and lack of institutional control… I see Penn State… ND allowing Manti to play I am the BCS game with full n iwledgd that he was I eligible to play, and just by the sheer fact that he lied to the school and public, again honor code violation and illicit sympathy for personal gain access and for ND.
    amosalonzostagg hit it right on the money.
    Where’s the NCAA now?
    The ND lawyer who was on the COI, and along with Paul Dee stated very loudly that high profile athletes must be monitored much more so than regular student athletes.
    So ND, where was the Compliance Dept when all this wS going down?

    Can you say NCAA sanctions coming to ND soon?

    Whether Manti was duped or complicit is irrelevant. The issue is that he lied, and the school lied and so has his father… All a cover up for something else. Hmmmmmm. Thank

  30. angelheartsbuckeyes says: Jan 19, 2013 3:35 PM

    Dear College Football,

    ESPN is an entertainment channel. It does more shaping of news than reporting. We told u so.

    Buckeye Nation

  31. Deb says: Jan 19, 2013 3:38 PM

    Dear angelheartsbuckeyes,

    I concur.


    Mike Leach

  32. be4bama says: Jan 19, 2013 3:41 PM

    Yeah it’s all ESPN’s fault.

  33. nuggets43 says: Jan 19, 2013 3:56 PM

    Conspiracy theorists,

    The information is out there, someone go get it. When did Manti meet Ronaiah Tuiasosopo? When did they hatch their scheme? Was this their planned endgame? Who else knew? Other people had to know, where are they?

    Right now there’s no evidence that Manti had met Ronaiah Tuiasosopo before November 2012. If they are actually buddies and had been friends someone would know about it. Why is no one coming forward? Is Manti this good to have a fake girlfriend, and a friendship with a sociopath no one knew about? Also, if Manti created this girlfriend hoax then he himself is a sociopath. Friends and acquaintances would know this. Where’s the reports from them that Te’o is actually one of the most deceitful, manipulative people on earth?

  34. kozbee says: Jan 19, 2013 4:19 PM

    Often i wonder thru all this as bizarre as it sounds where is his mind at.Does he need help mentially,what will he do stay in college and still play the game of football.I don`t want to put myself in his shoes as how hes thinking but imo his torment has just started.Players on the team,rants,students in school and if he goes to the NFL omg the crap hes going to take.IMO he has a warped mind and needs help,this imo will hurt him in dating or he will get a girl thats worse off then he is if that be his choice.ND should get him some help with a DR to really get to the source of his problems,there is something wrong.

  35. dgbk says: Jan 19, 2013 5:23 PM

    why do ppl mention mtv show catfish like thats a top notch trustworthy show and network. ppl have questioned the guy who made the movie and show credibility. I have seen the show some it look like bull crap..

    so much like that show te’o story to me seem like bull. maybe he wasnt in on it in 2009 but the whole he believed it up until this week is a lie to cover his butt.

  36. ken49ers says: Jan 19, 2013 5:30 PM

    Watching some suggest that ND should be sanctioned, and others compare this story to anything Penn State is hilarious. This story truly is not a big deal at all. It’s not as if Te’o was caught driving drunk off of grey goose with loaded weapons and a bullet proof vest.

  37. ttalarico says: Jan 19, 2013 5:31 PM

    Well said nuggets!

    These people need to get a life!!

  38. nuggets43 says: Jan 19, 2013 5:56 PM

    And to those accusing ESPN of helping Manti cover up his lies I say this: What evidence is there that Manti was in on the hoax? Who is out there with credible evidence that he was in on the hoax? There’s nothing out there. What is ESPN supposed to report? There’s just the unnamed guy in the deadspin story that admits to having no inside knowledge of the hoax but just felt there was an 80% chance Manti was involved because he didn’t think he could be so dumb to get duped.

  39. John A. says: Jan 19, 2013 6:37 PM

    If it’s edited, then it’s not a transcript.

  40. melikefootball says: Jan 19, 2013 7:23 PM

    Why should any of this be edited, what is ESPN wanting here the next contract for the Golden Dommers.

  41. amosalanzostagg says: Jan 19, 2013 8:35 PM

    First of all, as repugnant as ND is over the Seeberg incident and the distancing of ND from Te’o as fast as possible, there are no infractions that would involve the NCAA with Te’o nor Seeberg.

    The ND honor code is for ND only, it is outside the purview of NCAA infraction enforcement. Te’o chose poorly for his lies and the subsequent lies on an episode of his life that will hound him the rest of his life.

    Any act of fakery could now be considered a ‘Te’o”.

    The Seeberg incident, however repugnant and self serving to the ND football team and University, did not involve NCAA infractions with ND Sports Administration or it’s athletes.

    The Notre Dame Administration followed a very fine line in allowing their legal counsel pursue (or not pursue) what is in Notre Dame’s interest, which is to protect the brand that is the public perception of Notre Dame and what Notre Dame wants it to be.

    What about Penn State you ask? Entirely different case. You had a University Administration as well as Athletic Department officials conspire to hide actual facts
    and engage in a cover up to protect their brand. That is lack of institutional control and that is what allowed the NCAA to come in and hammer the Penn State financially
    and athletically. Was it right? Well, that is for the Federal and criminal courts to decide.

    The sin of Notre Dame is protecting the brand at all costs when innocent people die
    and the perception is to protect the guilty at the cost of everything they believe and
    very tenets that they are trying to promote. They are a sham and no amount of “Rudy”
    or “Win one for the Gipper!” can ever wash the stain of lies (Te’o) or the rancid smell
    of a cover up (Seeberg death) from what was a once admired University

    Domers can try to wake up the echos again, but these filthy chapters are not footnotes
    and people will have long memories, especially the Seeberg family, all 13 graduates.

  42. be4bama says: Jan 19, 2013 8:39 PM

    Amos, you nailed it.

  43. be4bama says: Jan 19, 2013 8:43 PM

    And nugget Te’o knew the girl was a hoax at the Heisman cermony yet he talked about dealing with her death. I heard with my own two ears those comments when he was interviewed. I feel duped because I once thought Te’o was truly special.

  44. amosalanzostagg says: Jan 19, 2013 10:32 PM

    If Manti had a set of stones, why not call a press conference without any ND officials with a room full of media to ask questions? So simple, yet we know it will never happen because ND would never allow an unscripted press conference which they could not control.

    Sample questions

    Did the ND Sports Information Department set up the newspaper interview for stories with the South Bend Tribune? Did you or did you not meet with the girlfriend at the 2009 Stanford football game?

    Why did you not correct Coach Kelly when he reported the girlfriends death and not you? Why didn’t you correct the announcement then?

    Walk us through the December 6th telephone call. Why did you keep with the story of the girlfriend’s death at the Heisman presentation?

    Why did you continue to tell the story of the girlfriend’s death when you yourself had doubts during the time leading up to the National Championship game?

    Why should we believe anything you say? You lied before, who says your not lying now?

  45. amosalanzostagg says: Jan 19, 2013 10:35 PM

    Question to the blog, where are the financial proceeds
    of the fundraiser Notre Dame endorsed for the fake girl friend?

  46. normtide says: Jan 19, 2013 11:10 PM

    If he has nothing to hide, then why not just open up. Edited transcripts? Espn removing parts of their online story? Manti still playing the sympathy angle after he found out about the hoax? His own teammates calling him out, saying he knew all along? I’m sorry, but one scripted interview does little to change any minds. At the end of the day, none of this makes him evil. In fact, this weak ruse makes him look stupider then falling for the hoax as he says. America will forgive you for anything that doesn’t involve hurting children. On the other hand, America hates when someone tries to dupe us.

    Either he needs to come clean, or ND fans have to stop claiming their players are mentally superior to everyone else.

  47. jessejames182 says: Jan 20, 2013 1:41 AM

    I’m confused isn’t there supposed to be something negative about manziel in every other article? Well even though everyone is obsessed with every crap he takes that doesn’t smell like a rose, I guess there has to be one gifted college athlete that isn’t a choir boy. *sarcasm.

  48. barbeaux says: Jan 20, 2013 2:51 AM

    ESPN used to report the news. At some point it jumped the shark and a) sold out for money and b) tries to *be* the news. It really is a disgusting “sports news* network now. I can’t even watch it anymore. I tried on Friday. During one show one cast member plugged a brand of whiskey…..a few moments later that whiskey had a commercial. Lame.

  49. Tim's Neighbor says: Jan 20, 2013 3:11 AM

    Did anyone commenting read the transcript? Good God. The questions you ask are answered.

  50. kozbee says: Jan 20, 2013 11:59 AM

    A childs mind in a mans body-Te`o.

  51. strauhal says: Jan 20, 2013 12:52 PM

    I think it’s amazing that ANYONE could question his innocence after reading the transcript.

    For all of you questioning his use of dec. 6th: have any of you ever done SOAP devotionals with someone else? It’s seriously intimate. Here he is growing with this “person” and then she dies; in his mind she existed and then died. The other data of her being alive again is just not being processed. So what does he do? He speaks well of his dead girlfriend.

    Or for those questioning the fact that the transcript is edited: Have any if you written a transcript? Doses anyone want to read about drinking water and bathroom breaks and questions relating to how comfortable a chair us? its edited because dumb stuff is taken out.

    Or for those questioning the way he talked about his girlfriend after he found out some seriously fishy stuff was going on: his girlfriend still existed and then died and then another group of people started acting fishy. He hadn’t connected all the dots yet. Should he have gone out and said “yeah, I’ve been playing hard for my dead girlfriend and there’s now this weird group of people that might be pranking me and telling me she’s suddenly alive and I don’t know what to believe.” Is that what he should have said?!

    Here’s what I think happened: since there’s no money motive, this girl he talked to was and is real, but she didn’t tell him the truth about who she really was and a whole bunch of people continued to perpetrate the lie. She had a real emotional relationship with him based on lies, not an honest relationship based on reality. I’d like to know who was on the other end of the phone all those nights. And who was doing those SOAP devo’s with him.

  52. sdemp says: Jan 20, 2013 4:26 PM

    I sense a lot of jealously towards ND. . . With that said, this is not about ND rather how a naive kid got duped by some ignorant and socially challenged individuals. I do not recall Manti Te’o calling a press conference to announce the death of his girlfriend. The media ran with the story and now looks awfully stupid for their own poor journalism.

    Nothing to see here.

  53. be4bama says: Jan 20, 2013 5:39 PM

    SDEMP why would you think any college football fan would be jealous of nd after that BEATDOWN in the BCS NC game?

    I did see Te’o being interviewed at the Heisman awards ceremony when he said that he used the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend as motivation during the season.

    And where’s all the money nd raised for Te’os girlfriend. I’m sure it was deposited into Te’os bank account so he could give it to her!!

    I really wanted him to win the Heisman trophy and felt bad for him when he didn’t. It’s people like me that have been duped.

    Finally to all you nd sheepie wearing rose colored glasses come cheer for the SEC teams…..where the Champions and girlfriends are real.

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