INDIANAPOLIS - Outspoken Colts punter Pat McAfee is defending Manti Te'o, saying he doesn't believe the Notre Dame linebacker was in on the phony story of his girlfriend and her death from Leukemia.
In a string of tweets Thursday morning, McAfee said he feels for Te'o, who's faced scrutiny after Deadspin.com reported there's no evidence that Lennay Kekua, Te'o's longtime girlfriend who supposedly died in September, ever existed.
"I don't think Manti was in on the hoax.. I believe he lied to folks (Dad) about encounters because of people mocking him 'Dude she's fake,'" McAfee tweeted. "Manti was excited.. Told peeps he met her to keep the 'She's not real' backlash away.. And off the story went."
Te'o said in a statement that he was humiliated and hurt to find out he was the victim of a "sick joke," and that the woman he had been in a relationship with wasn't real.
As for the speculation that Te'o orchestrated the phony relationship to hide that he is gay, McAfee told followers he doesn't buy it.
"From my understanding, In the Mormon religion they view everything that's bad as a 'temptation'.. The object of their lives is to live as Jesus lived.. Not give into temptation.. Alcohol, pre marital sex, homosexuality, etc.," McAfee tweeted. "So although it could be true, if he is a devout Mormon, I don't think he is."
McAfee said he's interested to see how the story develops. Te'o was expected to speak Thursday, but it's unclear when or if that would take place.
"People believe in a lot crazier things than a girl that a friend promised existed.. He just wanted love," McAfee tweeted. "To be real.. He was duped."