January 17, 2013

Ex-Cardinal fullback says he met Te'o's girlfriend

Although Notre Dame and T'eo say the woman doesn't exist, Reagan Maui'a insists he met her and her family, and can describe her in detail.

The Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz. — Former Arizona Cardinals fullback Reagan Maui'a says he met the girlfriend of Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, a woman the university and Te'o now say doesn't exist.

click image to enlarge

In this Oct. 27, 2012, file photo, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o stands on the sidelines during an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. Notre Dame issued a release Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, saying a story about Te'o's girlfriend dying, which he said inspired him to play better as he helped the Fighting Irish get to the BCS title game, turned out to be a hoax apparently perpetrated against the linebacker. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

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Maui'a told ESPN that he met Lennay Kekua in 2011 while he and some teammates were on a charity mission to American Samoa.

Maui'a told the network that this was before the woman met Te'o and that he and Kekua became "good friends."

Maui'a was through talking about the issue on Thursday, saying in a tweet "if ur calling me for a story, plz don't. I have better things to do... I gotta make breakfast."

Maui'a was released by the Cardinals on Oct. 30, the last of his five stints with the team. Maui'a played at Hawaii and was drafted in the sixth round by Miami. He played briefly with the Dolphins and with Cincinnati before coming to Arizona.

Maui'a told ESPN that Kekua "was tall, volleyball-type of physique. She was athletic, tall, beautiful. Long hair. Polynesian. She looked like a model."

He said he got to know her family.

"When she was going through the loss of her father, I was — I offered a comforting shoulder and just someone to bounce her emotions off," Maui'a said. "That was just from meeting her in Samoa."

His detailed description flies in the face of the acknowledgment by Notre Dame and Te'o that the woman was fictional.

By Thursday, Maui'a was only offering cryptic phrases on Twitter.

In response to someone offering support, he wrote, "Thanks bro,, this entire thing is crazy."

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