January 24, 2013
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o told Katie Couric this week that he briefly lied about his online girlfriend after discovering she didn’t exist, while maintaining that he had no part in creating the hoax.
Pressed by Couric to admit that he was in on the deception, Te’o said he believed that his girlfriend Lennay Kekua had died of cancer and didn’t lie about it until December.
“Katie, put yourself in my situation. I, my whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12,” Te’o said in an interview airing today on Couric’s syndicated talk show. A segment of the interview with Te’o and his parents was broadcast Wednesday on “Good Morning America.”
The Heisman Trophy runner-up said he only learned of the hoax when he received a phone call in December from a woman saying she was Kekua.
“Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she’s alive and then I’m going be put on national TV two days later. And to ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?” Te’o said.
An Associated Press review of news coverage found that the Heisman Trophy runner-up talked about his doomed love in a Web interview on Dec. 8 and again in a newspaper interview published Dec. 10.
Te’o’s father defended his son when Couric pointed out that many people don’t believe the Irish star, suspecting he used the situation for personal gain.
“People can speculate about what they think he is. I’ve known him 21 years of his life. And he’s not a liar. He’s a kid,” Brian Te’o said with tears in his eyes.
On Tuesday, the woman whose photo was used as the “face” of the Twitter account of Te’o’s supposed girlfriend says the man allegedly behind the hoax confessed and apologized to her.
Diane O’Meara told NBC’s “Today” show that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo used pictures of her without her knowledge in creating a fake woman called Lennay Kekua.
By BARRY WILNER
Add Junior Seau’s family to the thousands of people who are suing the NFL over the long-term damage caused by concussions.
Seau’s ex-wife and four children sued the league Wednesday, saying the former linebacker’s suicide was the result of brain disease caused by violent hits he sustained while playing football.
The wrongful death lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in San Diego, blames the NFL for its “acts or omissions” that hid the dangers of repetitive blows to the head. It says Seau developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) from those hits, and accuses the NFL of deliberately ignoring and concealing evidence of the risks associated with traumatic brain injuries.
Seau died at age 43 of a self-inflicted gunshot in May. He was diagnosed with CTE, based on posthumous tests, earlier this month.
An Associated Press review in November found that more than 3,800 players have sued the NFL over head injuries in at least 175 cases as the concussion issue has gained attention in recent years. The total number of plaintiffs is 6,000 when spouses, relatives and other representatives are included.
Scores of the concussion lawsuits have been brought together before U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody in Philadelphia.
“Our attorneys will review it and respond to the claims appropriately through the court,” the NFL said in a statement Wednesday.
Helmet manufacturer Riddell Inc., also is a defendant, with the Seau family saying Riddell was “negligent in their design, testing, assembly, manufacture, marketing, and engineering of the helmets” used by NFL players. The suit says the helmets were unreasonably dangerous and unsafe.
Riddell issued a statement saying it is, “confident in the integrity of our products and our ability to successfully defend our products against challenges.”
Seau was one of the best linebackers during his 20 seasons in the NFL, retiring in 2009.
“We were saddened to learn that Junior, a loving father and teammate, suffered from CTE,” the family said in a statement released to the AP. “While Junior always expected to have aches and pains from his playing days, none of us ever fathomed that he would suffer a debilitating brain disease that would cause him to leave us too soon.
“We know this lawsuit will not bring back Junior. But it will send a message that the NFL needs to care for its former players, acknowledge its decades of deception on the issue of head injuries and player safety, and make the game safer for future generations.”
Plaintiffs are listed as Gina Seau, Junior’s ex-wife; Junior’s children Tyler, Sydney, Jake and Hunter, and Bette Hoffman, trustee of Seau’s estate.
The lawsuit accuses the league of glorifying the violence in pro football, and creating the impression that delivering big hits “is a badge of courage which does not seriously threaten one’s health.”
It singles out NFL Films and some of its videos for promoting the brutality of the game.
“In 1993’s ‘NFL Rocks,’ Junior Seau offered his opinion on the measure of a punishing hit: ‘If I can feel some dizziness, I know that guy is feeling double (that),’” the suit says.
The NFL consistently has denied allegations similar to those in the lawsuit.
“The NFL, both directly and in partnership with the NIH, Centers for Disease Control and other leading organizations, is committed to supporting a wide range of independent medical and scientific research that will both address CTE and promote the long-term health and safety of athletes at all levels,” the league told the AP after it was revealed Seau had CTE.
The lawsuit claims money was behind the NFL’s actions.
“The NFL knew or suspected that any rule changes that sought to recognize that link (to brain disease) and the health risk to NFL players would impose an economic cost that would significantly and adversely change the profit margins enjoyed by the NFL and its teams,” the Seaus said in the suit.
The National Institutes of Health, based in Bethesda, Md., studied three unidentified brains, one of which was Seau’s, and said the findings on Seau were similar to autopsies of people “with exposure to repetitive head injuries.”
“It was important to us to get to the bottom of this, the truth,” Gina Seau told the AP then. “And now that it has been conclusively determined from every expert that he had obviously had CTE, we just hope it is taken more seriously. You can’t deny it exists, and it is hard to deny there is a link between head trauma and CTE. There’s such strong evidence correlating head trauma and collisions and CTE.”
In the final years of his life, Seau went through wild behavior swings, according to Gina and to 23-year-old son, Tyler. There also were signs of irrationality, forgetfulness, insomnia and depression.
“He emotionally detached himself and would kind of ‘go away’ for a little bit,” Tyler Seau said. “And then the depression and things like that. It started to progressively get worse.”
The White House says the Miami Heat will get personal congratulations from America's basketball-fan-in-chief on their NBA championship.
U.S. President Barack Obama plans to host the team at the White House Monday.
The White House says he also will recognize their support of the military. The players plan to meet with wounded members of the military while in Washington.
By David Ginsburg
AP Sports Writer
Fans watching NFL games on television have grown accustomed to the imaginary yellow line that runs across the field in accord with the first-down marker.
That first-down line could one day become part of the in-game experience at all 32 NFL stadiums.
Alan Amron, with financial backing from former NFL player and broadcaster Pat Summerall, has developed the First Down Laser System. Amron said the system projects a first-down line across the field that can be seen in the stadium and on TV.
The league is intrigued, but not completely sold on the idea — not yet anyway.
“The NFL is our prime customer at this point,” Amron said, “and if we can make something that they like, maybe the NCAA and Canadian Football League will follow suit.”
Amron first met with the NFL in 2003 and again in 2009. There may soon be future meetings.
“They give me different opinions and suggestions along the way,” Amron said. “We comply with them and come back. They tell me it took them years and years to implement replay and the overhead cam. The NFL right now has made it very clear to us that they didn’t want to eliminate the chains, but augmenting them wouldn’t be a bad idea.”
League spokesman Greg Aiello said, “We have not been convinced that it would work for us, but we are open to further discussion after the season.”
The laser system would be attached to the first-down markers on both sides and project a contrasting light green line across the field. The system would work in accord with the chain gang, but is designed to provide a more accurate focal point in terms of measurements. When a player hits the turf, by theory, it would become immediately apparent whether he made a first down.
“A misplaced ball on a first-down measurement can mean the difference between winning and losing a game,” Summerall said.
For fans at home, the first-down line is a visual aid that has become as much a part of the telecast as replay and out-of-town highlights. Amron got the idea for the laser after watching a game at home, then going to the stadium and having to do without the line across the field.
“Right away I realized it would be a great thing to be able to project it onto the field,” he said. “I filed patents on it within weeks.”
In recent years, the NFL has attempted to lure fans from home by making larger replay screens, displaying in-house photos of what the replay official is watching and showing clips from games around the league. Could a first-down line be the next addition?
“It will help all teams bring more fans to the stadium to see the game in person,” Summerall said.
The New York Knicks have surpassed the Los Angeles Lakers as the most valuable team in the NBA, according to Forbes' annual study.
Boosted by renovations to Madison Square Garden, the Knicks' value increased 41 percent to $1.1 billion. The Lakers were second at $1 billion.
The report released January 23 estimated the average NBA team's value at $509 million, a 30 percent increase from last year.
The Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks round out the top five.
The Milwaukee Bucks were the least valuable at $312 million. The Nets' value increased 48 percent to $530 million, ranking ninth, after their move from New Jersey to Brooklyn.
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