Invisible girlfriends, super brothers and a miracle on ice

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The last week or so has certainly been an eventful one in the world of sports. From Mantei Te’o’s imaginary girlfriend, to the return of hockey, to the NFL’s conference championship games, there were plenty of stories for a guy like me to write about. So, I think we should probably just get to it.

I think the best place to start is with Te’o, the standout Notre Dame linebacker, who made headlines early in the college football season when it was revealed that his grandmother, as well as his longtime girlfriend, both died prior to the team’s game with Michigan State. Despite his obvious grief, Te’o went out and had a dominant game against the Spartans, helping to push his case for the Heisman Trophy, and making Te’o one of the best stories of the college football season.

Except, it turns out, Te’o’s girlfriend, not only didn’t die, she never existed in the first place. Honestly, when the news broke last week about this story, I was more than a little intrigued and also kind of shocked. I mean, how exactly does one have a significant other for ‘years,’ and never see them face to face? Te’o and Notre Dame both claim he has been the victim of a cruel hoax, but again, I ask, how could he have never met his supposed girlfriend, who, coincidentally, had  been in a horrible car crash and suffered from (and eventually died of) leukemia? When asked why he never visited his girlfriend as she laid dying in a hospital bed, Te’o responded that he never thought of it. Those words right there tell me something fishy is going on. I’m not going to speculate what exactly. Maybe he wasn’t completely in on the hoax, but he must have known something was going on. Hopefully, at some point, we get to the bottom of this story, because it’s just too strange to conclude the way it seemingly has.

Te’o’s story was briefly interrupted by the NFL, which held it’s Super Bowl play-in games on Sunday. Ultimately we ended up with a Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh championship scrum, as Jim’s 49ers will take on John’s Baltimore Ravens… in what will also be the final game for certain Hall of Famer Ray Lewis. I’m glad to see Jim Harbaugh get his team to the championship. I’ve been a fan since I was a kid, and he was guiding Bo Schembechler’s offense at the University of Michigan. I still remember him taking the Indianapolis Colts to the verge of a Super Bowl berth before losing his job to some kid named Peyton Manning. Of course, he then went on to guide the Chargers for a brief while before again losing his job to a kid, this time one named Ryan Leaf. But I digress, Jim Harbaugh has proven himself to be a fantastic coach, winning at college’s lower levels, it’s highest levels, and now on the highest level of all, in the NFL. Conversely, I don’t much care for the Ravens. I have no problem with John Harbaugh, but I dislike the aforementioned Lewis who I’ve always felt is better at telling people how great he is than he actually is on the field. That said, the fact that brothers are facing off on the sidelines for the first time ever in a Super Bowl is certainly a compelling story and I’m looking forward to watching the game.

And finally, hockey came back. Did you notice? There’s a good chance you didn’t, and that would not be surprising, considering the NHL’s lack of common sense about promoting its brand and keeping it in the public eye. It will be interesting to see what type of momentum the league can build in its shortened season, which has already lost two of biggest draws (the all-star game and the winter classic) due to the lockout. My guess is, not enough to draw back all the fans it lost. Unfortunately, it seems the one thing the NHL does best is shoot itself in the foot, and while the gun they use is certainly not an actual gun, it’s not an imaginary one either.