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Former NFL linebacker Manti Te’o is finally telling his side of the story of his famous catfishing scandal in the Netflix documentary Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist.
On Tuesday, Te’o explained to CBS Mornings why he was ready to come forward nearly 10 years later:
“Cam Jordan with the Saints took a bunch of us teammates to a Jay-Z concert,” Te’o said. “And at that concert, Jay-Z opens up with saying these words, he said, ‘You cannot heal what you don’t reveal.’ And it may have been just some random words to everybody, but for me, at that time, it hit me like a ton of bricks. In order for me to kind of heal from this, I needed to reveal it.”
Te’o was one of the best players in college football in 2012, leading Notre Dame to an appearance in the BCS national championship game while becoming a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
The controversy began after he said his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, died during the season before an investigation by Deadspin Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey revealed that the woman in photos on Kekua’s social media were taken from another woman’s accounts and Kekua’s entire persona appeared to be an elaborate catfishing scheme.
Though the 2013 second-round draft pick hasn’t opened up much about the hoax apart from denying being in on it, the 2017 Jay-Z concert was apparently enough to change his perspective. Three years later, he teamed with documentary director Tony Vainuku to create the Netflix project that was released on Tuesday.