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Nearly a decade after being ruthlessly roasted across the internet for being “catfished,” Manti T’eo returned to Notre Dame on Saturday. The former Irish superstar led the team’s pregame walk, gave a speech to a large crowd in South Bend, and spoke to the media.
Prior to kickoff, Te’o was introduced in front of a sold-out crowd at Notre Dame Stadium and received a loud standing ovation. It was emotional scene.
For years, Te’o was the butt of every joke after his dead girlfriend ended up being a hoax. However, the pendulum swung in the opposite direction over the last few weeks after Netflix detailed his heart-breaking, gut-wrenching story in the documentary series ‘Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist.’
Notre Dame welcomed Manti Te’o back with open arms on Saturday
Prior to Notre Dame’s game against Cal, the former Heisman Trophy finalist led the team into the stadium. Fans greeted him with happy faces, hugs, and loud cheers. That may not have been the case even just 12 months ago.
Before the Irish went into the locker room, they took a moment to listen to Te’o’s speech to the fanbase that once held him, and will continue to hold him, as a hero. He spoke from his heart and had the team ready for war.
It was a truly special moment for everyone involved.
In addition to his pregame festivities, Te’o held a press conference. He didn’t owe anyone anything. He could have kept to himself and avoided the media all together.
When asked why he did it, Te’o said that he is indebted to Notre Dame. It is a place that treated him so well and changed his life. A visibly emotional Te’o also shared how incredible it is to bring his wife and daughter to South Bend for the first time.
Prior to the Netflix documentary, Te’o was beloved at Notre Dame. That has always been the case. However, after his full story was told how he experienced it, any stigma has been released.
Te’o’s return to South Bend was monumental for him and his family. What a moment. What a day!