My View: Friend of Manti Te'o can't understand why the media is treating him this way

By Sandra Moser

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Jan. 31 2013 5:30 p.m. MST

In my personal opinion, Manti Te’o is guilty of following the teachings of his parents by reaching out to those who are in need. In this case, he found peace and comfort with a young woman whom he connected with as his soul mate, and whom he believed battled cancer and faced death in the eye.

Ottilia Te’o explained it best to Couric: “He did exactly what I would expect a responsible, respectable young man to do, to extend himself to someone who said that they lost their father and now they have cancer. ... It just hurts to see, you know, his picture and his name being displayed as someone that is dishonest.”

Why isn’t anyone talking about Brian Te’o’s Christian gesture of reaching out through an intermediary to the alleged perpetrator's family? He sent words of comfort from parent to parent, rather than slap the alleged hoaxster with a messy lawsuit. Perhaps because that would be a story of good parents, which isn’t quite as sensational as what journalists prefer to cover today.

No harsh words of bitterness were uttered from the mouths of the family despite the pain they have suffered. They instead have preached love, forgiveness and family loyalty.

“Kids, listen to your parents,” Manti Te’o said to Couric and her live audience.

But we’re not going to see quotes like that very much in print. The media prefer to talk about fake girlfriends, timelines and the sensational aspects of this story. Fact is, they are missing the real story of a humble, scholar-athlete who wears a CTR ring, reads scriptures, adores his parents and became a loyal, loving friend to a prankster who lost control of reality.

Te'o is an Eagle Scout who earned his wings by achieving the ultimate Boy Scout award. He garnered his accolades because of hard work and dedication to football, loyalty to his parents and faith in God. He did not need a sensational story to win those awards. His grandmother's death was tragic enough.

This has been an exhausting and confusing roller coaster that has taken a toll on the emotions of a family that has worked to keep away from controversy and protect their last name.

I am friends with the family. If the pressure is enough to make my blood boil and blood pressure rise, can you imagine what the Te’o family is going through?

I know Manti Te’o as a humble, respectful, loyal and dedicated kid who through these trying times has emerged as a resilient young warrior. He could have easily crawled under a rock and broke down, but he didn't. The Hawaiian-born Heisman runner-up comes from a strong foundation and continues to garner the support of his Punahou and church friends. We stand behind him with unwavering faith, while Manti Te’o continues to strengthen and inspire those around him with his trials and tribulations.

I know because I consider Te'o one of my own.

Sandra Sagisi Moser is a former public affairs media rep for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Hawaii Public Affairs Council and television and print journalist.

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