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Voice of Te'o prankster? Couric plays voicemails

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Voice of Te'o prankster? Couric plays voicemails

NEW YORK (AP) The person Manti Te'o says was pretending to be his online girlfriend told the Notre Dame linebacker ``I love you'' in voicemails that were played during his interview with Katie Couric.

Taped earlier this week and broadcast Thursday, the hour-long talk show featured three voicemails that Te'o claims were left for him last year. Te'o said they were from the person he believed to be Lennay Kekua, a woman he had fallen for online but never met face-to-face.

After the first message was played, Te'o said: ``It sounds like a girl, doesn't it?''

``It does,'' Couric responded.

The interview was the All-American's first on camera since his tale of inspired play after the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend on the same day in September unraveled as a bizarre hoax in an expose by Deadspin.com on Jan. 16.

Te'o's parents appeared with him for part of the interview and backed up his claim that he wasn't involved in the fabrication, saying they, too, had spoken on the phone with a person they believed to be Kekua.

Couric addressed speculation that the tale was concocted by Te'o as a way to cover up his sexual orientation. Asked if he were gay, Te'o said ``no'' with a laugh. ``Far from it. Faaaar from that.''

He also said he was ``scared'' and ``didn't know what to do'' after receiving a call on Dec. 6 - two days before the Heisman Trophy presentation - from a person who claimed to be his ``dead'' girlfriend.

The first voicemail, he said, was from what was supposed to be Kekua's first day of chemotherapy for leukemia.

``Hi, I am just letting you know I got here and I'm getting ready for my first session and, um, just want to call you to keep you posted. I miss you. I love you. Bye,'' the person said.

In the second voicemail, the person was apparently upset by someone else answering Te'o's phone.

The third voicemail was left on Sept. 11, according to Te'o, the day he believed Kekua was released from the hospital and the day before she ``died.''

``Hey babe, I'm just calling to say goodnight,'' the person on the voicemail said. ``I love you. I know that you're probably doing homework or you're with the boys. ... But I just wanted to say I love you and goodnight and I'll be ok tonight. I'll do my best. Um, yeah, so get your rest and I'll talk to you tomorrow. I love you so much, hon. Sweet dreams.''

Couric suggested the person who left those messages might have been Ronaiah Tuisasosopo, a 22-year-old man from California, who Te'o said has apologized to him for pulling the hoax.

``Do you think that could have been a man on the other end of the phone?'' she asked.

``Well, it didn't sound like a man,'' Te'o said. ``It sounded like a woman. If he somehow made that voice, that's incredible. That's an incredible talent to do that. Especially every single day.''

Tuiasosopo has not spoken publicly since news of the hoax broke. The Associated Press has learned that a home in California where Te'o sent flowers to the Kekua family was once a residence of Tuiasosopo and has been in his family for decades.

Also on Thursday, the woman whose pictures were used in fake online accounts for Kekua said Tuiasosopo confessed to her in a 45-minute phone conversation as the scheme unraveled.

Diane O'Meara spoke with The Associated Press in a telephone interview. She said Tuiasosopo told her he'd been ``stalking'' her Facebook profile for five years and stealing photos.

O'Meara's attorney, Jim Artiano, said they had not decided on whether to take any legal action.

The 23-year-old O'Meara, of Long Beach, Calif., said she knew Tuiasosopo from high school and he contacted her through Facebook on Dec. 16. She said that, over the next three weeks, Tuiasosopo got in touch with her several times, attempting to get photos and video of O'Meara. She said he made up a story about wanting them to help cheer up a cousin who was injured in a car crash.

O'Meara learned her identity had been stolen on Jan. 13 when she was contacted by Deadspin.com.

The next day she got in touch with Tuiasosopo.

``When I contacted Ronaiah I got a very bizarre vibe from him, he became very nervous, he wasn't asking the questions I expected. He was asking `Who contacted you? What did they say?''' O'Meara said.

Later that day, he confessed, O'Meara said. She said she asked Tuiasosopo why he didn't simply stop the hoax.

``He told me he wanted to end the relationship,'' O'Meara said. ``He said he wanted to stop the relationship between Lennay and Manti, but Manti didn't want Lennay to break up with him ... He said he tried to stop the game many times.''

When news of the hoax broke a few days later, O'Meara said she received a text from Tuiasosopo asking her to call him as soon as possible. O'Meara said she didn't respond.

---

Associated Press writer Tami Abdollah contributed to this report from Los Angeles.

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Final 2018 NFL Mock Draft Predictions: Pundits, analysts project Redskins pick

Final 2018 NFL Mock Draft Predictions: Pundits, analysts project Redskins pick

The 2018 NFL Draft is almost here.

It is time to finalize your final mock drafts and finish fine-tuning your big boards.

The NFL's biggest offseason event takes place in Dallas  in a little under 48 hours, there's still a lot of uncertainty about what the Redskins plan to do with their first-round pick.  

With that in mind, the guys of Redskins Talk podcast decided to ask those who follow the team closest - local media - to take a guess at who the team will take with the No. 13 overall pick.

40 different media members chimed in with their picks, and here's who they see going to the Burgandy and Gold: 

Final 2018 NFL Draft Redskins Predictions

— Larry Michael, Voice of the Redskins: Defensive player or trade down
— John "Cakes" Auville, 106.7 The Fan's The Sports Junkies: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU - "Guice will look nice in a Redskins uniform"
— JP Flaim, 106.7 The Fan's The Sports Junkies: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
— Jason "Lurch" Bishop, 106.7 The Fan's The Sports Junkies: Derwin James, S, Florida State - "could be the Sean Taylor of this draft"
— Eric "EB "Bickell, 106.7 The Fan's The Sports Junkies:: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
— Matt Valdez, 106.7 The Fan's The Sports Junkies: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
— Matt Cahill, 106.7 The Fan's The Sports Junkies: Derrius Guice
— Craig Hoffman, 106 The Fan: Vita Vea
— Chad Dukes, 106.7 The Fan's Chad Dukes vs. The World: Derrius Guice
— Brock,106.7 The Fan's Chad Dukes vs. The World: Derrius GuiceVita Vea
— Chris Russell, 106.7 The Fan: Tremaine Edmunds
— Nick Ashooh, 106.7 The Fan: Vita Vea
— Andy Pollin, 106.7 The Fan: Vita Vea - "if he's a bust, we can call him 'oy Vita Vea'"
— Adam Epstein, 106.7 The Fan: Vita Vea
— Chris Cooley, The Team 980:: Trading down for Da'Ron Payne
— Kevin Sheehan, The Team 980 Radio: Da'Ron Payne
— Scott Linn, The Team 980: Vita Vea
— Bram Weinstein,The Team 980: Vita Vea
— Brian Mitchell, NBC Sports Washington: Da'Ron Payne
— Chick Hernandez, NBC Sports Washington: Vita Vea
— Santana Moss, NBC Sports Washington: Da'Ron Payne
— Michael Jenkins, NBC Sports Washington: Da'Rony Payne or Vita Vea
— Rich Tandler, NBC Sports Washington: Vita Vea
— JP Finlay, NBCSW Redskins Insider: Vita Vea
— Pete Hailey, NBC Sports Washington: Minkah Fitzpatrick
— Mitch Ticshler, NBC Sports Washington: Vita Vea
— Troy Machir, NBC Sports Washington: Vita Vea
— Ajay Atayee, NBC Sports Washington: Da'Ron Payne
— PFT Commenter, Barstool Sports: Vita Vea
— Barstool Nate, Barstool Sports: Trade up to take Baker Mayfield -"all eyes have to be on us, that's the Redskins way"
— Brent, Burgandy Blog: Minkah Fitzpatrick
— Sherree Burruss, Sports reporter, NBC4 Washington: Tremaine Edmunds
— Diane Chesebrough, USA Today: Vita Vea
— Kareem Copeland, Washington Post: Vita Vea
— Erin Hawksworth, WJLA: Minkah Fitzpatrick
— Jake Kring-Schreifels, Redskins.com: Vita Vea
— Lake Lewis, USA Today: Vita Vea
— Moises Linares, NBC Telemundo: Tremaine Edmunds
— Thom Loverro, Washington Times: Derrius Guice
— Ken Meringolo, Hog's Haven: Vita Vea
— Matthew Paras, Washington Times: Vita Vea - "he's a very large human, and the Redskins need one of those"
— Michael Phillips, Richmond Times Dispatch: Tremaine Edmunds
— Chad Ryan, Redskins Capital Connection: Derrius Guice - "he might have a higher ceiling than Saquon Barkley"
— Fred Smoot, former Redskins CB: Vita Vea
— Rick Snyder, Washington Post: Vita Vea
— Dimitri Sotis, WTOP: Derrius Guice
— Marc "Nigel" Sterne, producer at Tony Kornheiser Show: Shane Tripuka, P, Texas A&M
— Matt Terl, Washington City Paper: Darrius Guice -"and I will be miserable"
— George Wallace, Sports Director at WTOP: Vita Vea
— Ben White, Chief Economic Correspondent at Politico: Minkah Fitzpatrick
— Chris Worthy, REDSKINS GM (@chris_worthy): Vita Vea

You can listen to the whole podcast here:

RELATED: DOUG WILLIAMS SAYS TRADING UP IS UNLIKELY

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Wizards hope this time will be different in Game 5 on road

Wizards hope this time will be different in Game 5 on road

The Wizards were in a very similar spot and less than one year ago. After dropping the first two games on the road against the Celtics in the second round of the 2017 playoffs, the Wizards held serve to lock up the series at 2-2. They then lost in Boston in Game 5 and ultimately dropped the series.

This year the Wizards find themselves at 2-2 against the Raptors, this time in the first round. Again, they are on the road for Game 5, knowing it will be pivotal and could determine the series.

This time, they hope for a much different result.

"It's super important," forward Markieff Morris said. "Ideally, what we're looking for us to come back [to D.C.] up 3-2 with a chance to close it out on our home floor."

The Wizards value continuity more than most teams in the NBA. According to Basketball Reference's roster continuity chart, they are the only team in the NBA to retain 75 percent of their roster year-over-year in each of the past three seasons.

The Wizards have kept 82 percent of their roster from the 2016-17 season. Only three teams have held onto more players: the Spurs, Blazers and, ironically, the Raptors.

Continuity can have its pitfalls. It can breed complacency and, for certain personality-types, discord. Things can very easily go stale.

But in this case, the fact these players have been in this same scenario before and know very well how important Game 5 is could work to the Wizards' advantage.

"I definitely will bring it up. I won't dwell on it. Just bring it up. We have to do better," head coach Scott Brooks said. "Hopefully those experiences will pay for us and give us that toughness that we don't want to be on the losing side of it again."

If the Wizards didn't already know the importance of Game 5, they could look at the historical odds. Teams that win Game 5 in a seven-game series tied at 2-2 go on to win the series 82.8 percent of the time with a 164-34 all-time record. Teams that lead a seven-game series 3-2 go on to win the series 84.8 percent (251-45) of the time.

The Wizards could also look at the home/road numbers. When series are tied at 2-2, the home team has a 22-13 record in Game 5 since 2003 and a series record of 26-9.

The Raptors not only won the first two games of this series at home, but they tied the Rockets for the best home record in the NBA this season at 34-7. One of those defeats were to the Wizards.

Washington, however, has to get over a hump on the road in the playoffs. Though they have won eight consecutive home postseason games, they have lost six straight on the road. The last one they won was in Atlanta in Game 6 of the first round last year. They did not win on the road against the Celtics in the second round and as a result lost the series.

Morris and Brooks offered keys to breaking that streak.

"On the road, you've gotta really lock in," Morris said. "I was telling the guys yesterday that when you're up 20 it's only really 10 when you're on the road because they have the crowd to give them momentum in the game."

"We have to have a better start. We have to bring that edge on the road," Brooks said. "We haven't seemed to get into an offensive rhythm there. I thought the second game actually helped. We were down by 23 or so and then really started moving the ball and attacking their feet. Even though we didn't win the game, it gave us some confidence."

Brooks was referring to Game 2 wheN the Wizards outscored the Raptors 61-54 in the second half. They held Toronto to just two threes during that stretch, including zero in the third quarter.

That may have been a breakthrough. Now they have to do it for 48 minutes.

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