The alleged internet hoax which has thrust Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o into the limelight may prove to be inspiration for an episode of “Necessary Roughness”. While details are continuing to emerge, the story right now is that on September 11th, 2012, Te’o said to the media that he suffered the loss of his grandmother and his girlfriend all in one day. Te’o went on to have an remarkably strong 2012 season, without missing a single game, and was nominated for the Heisman Trophy. An anonymous tip on January 11th, 2013 led to the sports blog Deadspin investigating claims that Te’os girlfriend Lennay Kekua never existed. According to the report, they found that there is no record of a woman names Lennay Kekua and the story of her death is a hoax.
“Necessary Roughness” executive producers and co-creators Liz Kruger and Craig Shapiro said that next season the Te’o controversy could become an episode. “We only just now started to map out season 3, but of course it comes up about every five minutes in the writer's room,” says Shapiro. “We’ve yet to determine if we’ve figured out a way how to slot it into what we do on our show, but we’d like to.”
“We like to look at the inside sports. You see it from the outside when you’re reading about it on the internet, but we like to say, ‘Let’s go through the backdoor and see what happened behind closed doors, what that looks like, and why it was done,’” says Kruger.
“Also, what’s the personal angle,” adds Shapiro. “We see sports stars as remote figures who turn up in the paper and on Sports Centre every night, but they’re actually real people who are trying to navigate like everyone else — just on a bigger stage and with higher stakes.”
Te’o appeared for an exclusive interview on Katie Couric’s talk show on Thursday where he adamantly denied the rumours that he was gay, which emerged as a result of the hoax. This angle is something that also interests Kruger, as “Necessary Roughness” just kicked off its second season last Wednesday, and the final two episodes of this season will deal with a star professional football player who comes out of the closet. “I do think it’s the most interesting story in sports right now,” says Kruger. “There’s a lot of gay players right now and nobody wants to be the first — to be the second is not so difficult. Once somebody breaks down the doors, it’s so easy to walk through.”
“There’s something about it that just appeals and is interesting to everybody,” Kruger says. “Those are always the kinds of stories we want to try to find — where the human condition is larger than just some small sports tale.”
I think it would be an interesting move to create a Te’o inspired episode. Whatever they choose to do, the Manti Te’o controversy will likely continue to be blown up in the media for a little while to come.