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Dr. Phil: Te'o was victim of girlfriend hoax

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Dr. Phil: Te'o was victim of girlfriend hoax

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Dr. Phil McGraw says Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who masterminded the dead girlfriend hoax involving Manti Te'o, told him the Notre Dame linebacker was not involved in the scheme and that he ended up falling ``deeply, romantically'' in love with the football player.

McGraw spoke on the ``Today'' show Wednesday, previewing an interview he did with Tuiasosopo, a 22-year-old California man who created the fictional woman Te'o knew as Lennay Kekua. Tuiasosopo's interview with McGraw will air in two parts on the ``Dr. Phil Show'' starting Thursday.

Since the hoax was revealed earlier this month, Te'o has said the relationship with Kekua started online and eventually became serious, even though the two only talked on the phone and exchanged electronic messages, never meeting in person. Te'o said he was told of Kekua's ``death'' from leukemia just hours after his grandmother died in September.

McGraw said Tuiasosopo told him the voice of Kekua was his. Tuiasosopo and Te'o have each said that while the Kekua relationship went on for several years, there were times when they weren't in contact.

``There were many times where Manti and Lennay had broken up. But something would bring them back together whether it was something going on in his life, or in Lennay's life, in this case in my life,'' Tuiasosopo said.

Tuiasosopo said he wanted to end the relationship between Kekua and Te'o before he had to fake Kekua's death.

``I wanted to end it because everything I had gone through, I finally realized that I just had to move on with my life and I had to get me, Ronaiah, I had to start just living and let this go,'' Tuiasosopo said.

Te'o's publicist, Matthew Hiltzik, declined comment on behalf of Te'o and his family.

When the ruse was reported by Deadspin.com on Jan. 16, the report raised the questions about whether Te'o was involved. The story about how he played inspirationally after the deaths of his girlfriend and grandmother led to an outpouring of support from Notre Dame fans. It became the backdrop to the Fighting Irish's undefeated regular season and run to the BCS championship, where they lost to Alabama.

Te'o won seven national awards for his play and was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. He has denied any involvement from the beginning, and Notre Dame said an investigation of the player's claims backed up his story.

``The feelings, the pain, the sorrow, that was all real,'' Te'o told Katie Couric in an interview last week.

McGraw says ``absolutely, unequivocally'' Te'o had no role in creating the hoax.

Te'o said he first learned that something was amiss when Keuka called him on Dec. 6, and told him she had faked her death.

He told his parents about what had happened while home for Christmas break and called Notre Dame coaches on Dec. 26 to let them know. Notre Dame officials said that they interviewed Te'o and retained Stroz Friedberg, a New York computer forensics firm, to investigate the case. They learned on Jan. 3 that there were no records indicating Lennay Kekua existed.

McGraw said he spent hours with Tuiasosopo and his parents, saying he had a number of life experiences that ``damaged this young man in some very serious ways.''

McGraw said Tuiasosopo had feelings for Te'o.

``Here we have a young man that fell deeply, romantically in love,'' McGraw said.

McGraw said he asked Tuiasosopo if he is gay.

``He said, `Well, when you put it that way, yes.' Then he caught himself and said, `I am confused,''' McGraw said.

Te'o also was asked by Couric if he is gay. Te'o said ``no'' with a laugh. ``Far from it. Faaaar from that,'' he said.

Te'o said in the interview with Couric that Tuiasosopo tweeted him a direct message on Jan. 16, saying he had been behind the hoax. The message read: ``I completely accept the consequences to the pain I've caused & it's important that you know the truth before anyone else.''

Te'o told Couric that Tuiasosopo later called him and explained what he did.

``He didn't say why. He just explained that he just wanted to help people and that was his way of helping people. Of being someone that he wasn't and trying to connect with somebody on a different level to help them out,'' Te'o said.

Te'o said he didn't say much to Tuiasosopo.

``I just found that everything that I believed to be my reality wasn't my reality at all,'' Te'o said.

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NFL plans to re-air the entire 2019 season on the RedZone channel

NFL plans to re-air the entire 2019 season on the RedZone channel

Missing football? So are we, and the NFL has come up with a plan to fix that.

The league announced Friday that for the next 17 days starting on Monday, April 6, the NFL RedZone channel will re-air each week of the 2019 season, as fans will get to re-live the entire experience of each Sunday this past fall.

Broadcasts will begin with Week 1 on Monday and carry on through April 22, the day before the NFL Draft. Week 2 will be shown on Tuesday, Week 3 on Wednesday, and so on.

The seven-hour program will begin at three different times each day: 8 a.m., 3 p.m., and 10 p.m. on the NFL RedZone channel. 

This move comes just a couple of weeks after the NFL made their premium streaming service, NFL Game Pass, free to all fans through May 31.

With everyone expected to remain inside across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL has come up with a solid way to pass the time.

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Mystics' Elena Delle Donne, Wizards Japanese Media each named finalists for Shorty Awards

Mystics' Elena Delle Donne, Wizards Japanese Media each named finalists for Shorty Awards

Outside of her exceptional play on the court, winning an MVP and WNBA title in 2019, Mystics superstar Elena Delle Donne could come home with a different kind of hardware this summer. 

Delle Donne's video highlighting her achievement joining basketball's elite 50-40-90 club, is a finalist for a Sports Shorty Award. The Shortys is an annual award show recognizing those produce real-time, short-form content across multiple social media platforms. 

The 50-40-90 club consists of players who've shot over 50% from the field, 40% from three and 90% from the free-throw line over the course of an entire season. Delle Donne shot 51.5% from the floor, 43% from three and 97.4% on her free throws in 2019 and became the first player in WNBA history to join the exclusive club.

Only eight NBA players have ever posted 50-40-90 shooting numbers, and Delle Donne's video rightfully equates her accomplishment to the men. 

It doesn't stop there for DC basketball's representation at the Shorty Awards. 

Wizards Japanese Media is also a finalist for a Sports Shorty following its first season on the NBA beat. After the Wizards drafted Japanese-born Rui Hachimura ninth overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, they also launched a website, twitter account and mobile app to capture the excitement of a brand new group of fans. 

Both Wizards Japanese Media and Delle Donne are among six finalists for the Sports Shorty category and the winners will be announced during a digital ceremony on May 3. 

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