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Bizarrely Ordinary

January 24th, 2013

Until a few years ago, I always gave a seven-time Tour de France winner the benefit of the doubt.

During this year’s college football season, I was led to believe the inspirational story of a Notre Dame linebacker. Manti Te’o lost his grandmother and his girlfriend in a 24-hour span and played with incredible strength, nearly earning himself a Heisman Trophy and his team a national championship.

But in the time between then and now, everything has been turned on its head.

Lance Armstrong flat out lied to everyone. I’m not going to try to spin it any other way. He says that it was “scary” that, to him, using performance-enhancing drugs did not feel wrong at the time.

What is scary to me is that he kept up this pattern of lying for years, even going so far as to file lawsuits against others who were actually telling the truth. ESPN’s Rick Reilly, who received a 21-word email from Armstrong, penned a great column about how duped he felt.

“And I guess I should let it go, but I keep thinking how hard he used me. Made me look like a sap. Made me carry his dirty water, and I didn’t even know it,” he wrote.

Two days before the first part of Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey aired, the sports blog Deadspin broke a massive story to the world that Te’o’s girlfriend was a hoax.

At first, I didn’t see the story as legitimate. Since when should I believe something from Deadspin filled with so many unnamed sources? But eventually, we all found out the story was true.

Well, for the most part, the story was accurate. The authors of the article seem to indict Te’o as part of the hoax. For now, the jury is still out on whether Te’o was an accomplice. So far, he has told the world that he was not at all involved, even though some of the information just doesn’t add up. I look forward to watching his first on-camera interview, since the story came out, in the near future.

Could the events of the past two weeks be any more bizarre? Two inspirational stories Đ one of a comeback from cancer to cycling glory, the other of a comeback from tragedy and grief to the cusp of college football greatness Đ were nothing more than mirages?

Can we believe anything miraculous anymore? The simple answer I have, right now, is that I don’t know.

Will the bizarre now become more normal? Should I be surprised by anything ever again?

In the case of Armstrong, his fall from grace may not have been that surprising. Rumors about his cheating had floated for years as he won Tour de France after Tour de France. He continued to deny cheating, even as many came forward with accounts to the contrary.

I wanted to believe that Armstrong’s comeback from cancer to seven Tour de France titles was truly clean. But it turns out that the story was too good to be true.

For Te’o, he is not alone when it comes to fake online romances. A “catfish” is someone who creates a false identity online to dupe others into relationships. If you watch enough MTV, you know that there’s a whole program devoted to embarrassing people who unknowingly get involved in these situations.

I just hope that Te’o was really the victim here, not the one playing along.

All I can say is that I hope both of these stories are anomalies. Two people made out to be saps is two too many, in my book.