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Jones: Te'o, Armstrong overshadowing exciting stories

Published January 19, 2013 4:44 pm

Armstrong's doping confession adds to spotlight-stealing media frenzy.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Someday soon, Lance Armstrong should find Manti Te'o, befriend the Notre Dame linebacker and take him out to dinner. Or maybe he should send Te'o a Christmas card.

Either way, Armstrong owes the football player. Even if the two have never officially crossed paths. It's not often that you can admit to using performance-enhancing drugs, do a tearful interview with Oprah, be disgraced nationally and still not be the top story.

But, somehow, that's what this week has accomplished. The saga of Te'o, his girlfriend tragically dying of leukemia and the news that said girlfriend didn't actually exist certainly will go down as one of the more bizarre sports stories in history.

The fallout of such has overshadowed one of the busier weeks in memory.

Think about it. Ray Lewis and his quest to reach one last Super Bowl before retirement should be front and center. Instead, it's an afterthought.

Colin Kaepernick has San Francisco at the cusp of playing for a championship, but nobody has really noticed. The NHL on the verge of returning from a yearlong strike? Footnote. LeBron James and Kevin Durant having two of the best games, on successive nights, that the NBA has seen this season? It's been ignored.

And we almost forgot about Earl Weaver, the legendary baseball manager, passing away.

That's how transfixed the public has been with the drama of Te'o and Armstrong. Both have riveting stories. Both tales are wrapped around lies and deception, unwrapping previously rock-solid public personas. Both tales call media gullibility into question on an embarrassing scale.

What does it all mean? It means Armstrong is likely finished as a factor in the public eye. Te'o, who claimed he was the victim of an elaborate hoax, will have some explaining to do in the months leading up to the NFL Draft. We reporters will, and should, be less trusting when dealing with heart-wrenching feature stories. Ray Lewis will still face the New England Patriots on Sunday with the chance to prolong his Hall Of Fame career.

On Monday? We should all exhale. We've just witnessed one of the nuttiest and roller-coaster weeks in recent memory.

tjones@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tjonessltrib