Photo: Getty
  /  08.24.2022

After being the center of a 2012 catfish scandal, former NFL player Manti Te’o has revealed the inspiration behind his latest tell-all documentary.

Prior to Netflix’s “Untold” docuseries, the 31-year-old was quiet concerning the details of the infamous catfishing scandal that rocked the sports world. In 2012, he shared a story that his grandmother and girlfriend passed away on the same day. The world mourned with the breakout football star and was inspired by his decision to play through his grief. That is…until it was revealed that his girlfriend did not exist. At the time, it became a media firestorm and nearly cost Te’o his career.

Recently, Te’o opened up about what led him to share his truth during an appearance on “CBS Mornings.” “Cam Jordan with the Saints took a bunch of us teammates to a JAY-Z concert,” he recalled. “And at that concert, JAY-Z opens with saying these words, ‘You cannot heal what you don’t reveal.’ And it may have been just some random words to everybody, but for me, at the time, it hit me like a ton of bricks.”

Before the incident, Te’o had no idea what the term “catfish” even meant. “My uncle immediately said, ‘I think you’re getting catfished,'” said the ex-Notre Dame football sensation during the trailer for “Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist.” “And that was the first time that somebody ever brought up the term ‘catfish.’ I didn’t know what catfishing was. Even when he explained what it was, I still couldn’t understand what that even entailed.”

Furthermore, the Hawaii native reveals having to mourn not only his grandmother who actually passed, but also a woman who did not exist, was a lot to deal with at the time. “Whether it was catfishing or real, I mourned both,” Te’o expressed.


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