I’m trying to figure out whether Lance Armstrong is relieved that Manti Te’o upstaged him this week. On one hand, all of the mean, finger-wagging columns on Lance’s lying, like this typically flatulent effort by Rick Reilly, have been pushed to the second page of the Internet by Te’o's (I’m not entirely sure I’m using the apostrophe correctly here) fake dead girlfriend. Although the internet defies all attempts to ascribe a finite supply of oxygen to any news story, there is a finite amount of attention that can be paid. And even though every news organization has dutifully assigned a writer (or moron) to cover the Lance debacle, no one much cares about it anymore. What happens to a scandal deferred? Does it dry up, like a craisin in this pun?
I think the overshadowing of the Lance Armstrong saga probably doesn’t help Armstrong at all. The vast majority of people who will have opinions about him have already formed them and those who may be swayed by a teary confession in front of Oprah now may not even be paying attention. But that’s all public opinion, which is the least of Lance’s worries at this point. And yet, public opinion is almost exclusively Manti Te’o's (seriously, these apostrophes are bothering me) worry at this point. Almost.
Let’s talk fake dead Samoan girlfriends….
MANTI TE’O: VIVID IMAGINEER
It’s a constant struggle to come up with things to write about in this space. While the intersection of law and sports is an area rich with possibility, it’s also one that gives no f**ks about a weekly deadline. Some weeks, the arrest blotter is full. Other weeks, it is decidedly not so. In addition to this, it’s sometimes difficult to ignore the biggest stories in the sports world because they don’t have a single legal peg to hang a post on. All websites struggle in trying to explain big events through whatever microscopic filter they’ve assigned themselves. Or perhaps struggle isn’t the right word for it. Grope maybe? At any rate, this Manti Te’o deal is something that simply begs to be discussed on this website. The only problem is… there appears to be no legal angle.
Manti didn’t leverage his unbelievably cracked story into any meaningfully fraudulent gain. Sure, one may see a tenuous link between his sappy story of a dead girlfriend, a second-place Heisman finish, and professional football fame and fortune. But that is only a rough connection to a layman’s idea of fraud. Not, you know, a solid basis for a lawsuit. But what if someone else suggested a link between the world of fake dead girlfriends and the world of law? What if… someone did my job for me?
Before Te’o speaks, his people need to find every comment that he or anyone in his family has made that will be fodder for interview questions, so that he can be prepared to answer the questions.
This doesn’t mean he’s not telling the truth. Lawyers routinely prepare witnesses to testify by sharing with them all prior statements that they have made, so that they will be careful to tell a consistent and cohesive story. Plenty of people who tell the truth will from time to time misspeak. Good, thorough preparation protects against that.
Even with good preparation, Te’o has to be able to pull it off. The fact that there’s no indication as to when he’ll be talking suggests that Te’o’s people are concerned that it could be too much for him to juggle verbally and mentally, in an inherently stressful situation.
Amen, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk. Amen. In the comments, feel free to discuss just what in the f**k happened with/to Manti Te’o.
LITIGIOUS LAWYER LEVIES LAWSUIT
Staci mentioned this on Wednesday, but it probably bears a fuller fleshing out. This week, another lawyer made everyone in the profession tickled pink to be part of such a rich tradition of douchebaggery. Larry McGuinness, an attorney in Miami, filed a class action lawsuit against the San Antonio Spurs because their coach, Gregg Popovich, rested star players when the Spurs played the Miami Heat earlier this season. Allow Larry Esquire’s legal brilliance to blind you:
In his class-action lawsuit, McGuiness said he suffered economic damages from paying a premium price for tickets.
“I’m not the only one,” McGuiness said. “In fact, a few minutes I talked to this gentleman from South Carolina who actually just flew here with nine people, bought tickets and they learned the same way I did.”
McGuinness said it didn’t matter if the Heat won the game. He said what the Spurs served fans left a bad taste in his mouth. He likened his experience at the game to ordering a $65 porterhouse steak from a good restaurant and receiving a disappointing cube steak.
This is why we can’t have nice things.
Listen, everyone deserves a lawyer and that basic tenet drags our profession into some seriously embarrassing situations, defending the world’s cranks, liars, and assh*les. But not every inconvenience deserves a lawsuit. If you receive a disappointing steak, buck the f**k up, you weirdo. Life is really hard for a frighteningly high number of people, and the lackluster game turned in by the San Antonio Spurs registers not at all on the world’s list of things worth caring about. I mean, for Christ’s sake, Manti Te’o lost his girlfriend to leukemia!
RAP SHEET ROLL CALL
* Ryan Leaf continues to lead a very sad life, now that Junior Seau is not around to hold him back.
* Milton Bradley, angry former athlete and inventor of zero board games, has been charged with abusing his estranged wife.
* New England Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard missed practice this week because he had to attend a hearing on a pretrial motion related to his arrest for assault last year. Reached after practice, Bill Belichick was quoted as saying, “____________.”