The brutally unsentimental retelling of the Manti Te'o story feels like an open wound, a cautionary tale that teaches an unfortunate lesson: Trust is dangerous.
Yet some of the speculative detritus was swept away Friday night when Te'o sat down with ESPN's Jeremy Schaap for a 2½-hour, off-camera interview. The sprawling dialogue answered many questions, but made the shocking turn of events no less dumbfounding.
What did seem to emerge is that Te'o was not complicit in the hoax that created a fake girlfriend for him so she could die a fake death and inspire Te'o and others who heard the fake story. "No, never," Te'o said when asked if he had any part in the ruse.
He, in fact, communicated with the alleged hoax perpetrator, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, on Jan. 16, the day Deadspin.com broke the story. Te'o said Tuiasosopo apologized and tried to explain himself. After the interview, Te'o showed Schaap Twitter direct messages from Tuiasosopo that contained an apology for orchestrating the hoax.
Te'o said he hopes Tuiasosopo learned a lesson but he holds no ill will toward him.
Some of us might not feel the same way. This hoax turned an enrapturing tales of tragic death, love and hope into baloney. We jammed Te'o into an inspirational hero archetype during the football season, but what we really were seeing was catfish, as we all have learned this week is the term for a fake, online relationship.
For Ted Miller's full column, click here.