Fishing around on the Internet today — not catfishing, just to be clear — we found this note in the Nov. 5, 2012 issue of Sports Illustrated, under the headline of “Random Act of Kindness:”
“When a mutual friend told him about Bridget Smith, a 12-year-old Notre Dame fan who was dying of a brain tumor, Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te’o — whose girlfriend died of leukemia last month — composed an emotional e-mail to the girl’s parents, who read it to her just before she passed away. ‘It was just a bright spot on the saddest day of our lives,’ said Louise Smith.”
The note is credited to an editor at the magazine, who, today, probably wishes it wasn’t.
Presumably, that information was drawn from what was called a “Fox Sports Exclusive,” written by FoxSports.com’s Greg Couch on Oct. 25, 2012, about this little girl from Detroit. Yahoo.com picked up on the story and applauded it. The story so moved the publishers of American Athlete magazine that they made Te’o its “Athlete of the Week” for Nov. 30.
Go to Couch’s story online, by the way, and you’ll find it was “updated” at 7:21 p.m. on Wednesday.
A quote from Te’o that has remained in the story is this, on why he reached out to Bridget’s family:
“I’m human. I have my own mistakes. I have my own weaknesses. But that doesn’t exempt me from being there for somebody. I’m a knucklehead sometimes, but if I can have an impact on somebody’s life in a positive way, I’m going to do it.’’
Sorry if we’re the knucklehead to ask this, but . . .anyone actually see an obituary on Bridget Smith? Yes, we did. It was published by the Schrader-Howell Funeral Home in Detroit shows she died on Oct. 5. There’s a picture of her with her Holy Card showing her getting her First Communion.
And that’s supposed to make us feel better?
We aren’t sure about what Major League Baseball statistics are real or not anymore. We don’t know how to measure up someone sprinting toward an Olympic medal.
We’re not sure what make of the latest things out of the mouth of Lance Armstrong.
Now, we’re supposed to get in a game of “Truth or Dare” with a Heisman Trophy runner up and team leader who says he didn’t know the whole story about his beloved girlfriend dying?
While we await an explanation from kid who once gave USC’s football program a verbal commitment but was then was persuaded instead to go to South Bend, Ind. – and somehow Lane Kiffin isn’t being held responsible – we’d just like to know:
== Why did it take Deadspin.com to break this story, with its anonymous sources, spinning this in a horrible direction long after there were windows of opportunity for Manti, his family, Notre Dame and his newly paid legal team to control the message themselves? Were they just going to wait it out and hope everyone forgot?
== According to the timeline that keeps being rehashed, if Te’o knew he’d been punk’d on Dec. 6, why did Notre Dame wait so long to do something to help him? Why does it look as if it is hiding something as well? And why did it allow Te’o to continue taking questions about this girlfriend during the lead-up to the BCS title game?
== How could Te’o possibly have a “relationship” with someone online without ever using Skype?
== Most importantly: Is there someone close to him making sure he’s not showing any signs of possibly harming himself as this crush of the public reaction continues to swell?
Otherwise, how do we know this thing isn’t really going to end up badly?