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Netflix’s New Manti Te’o Doc Is a Must-Watch for Many Reasons

Also in Traina Thoughts: Patrick Reed’s absurd lawsuit; 2022 NFL broadcast crews; Yankees fan did not get a haircut and more.

1. I posted the trailer for Netflix’s two-part series, Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist in Tuesday’s Traina Thoughts and said it looked like it was going to be a must-watch. I was right.

The inside look at the shocking 2013 reveal that Manti Te’o’s dead girlfriend never existed takes you on a journey that covers all the bases: How the catfish happened, why it happened, how it got exposed, how the scandal hurt Te’o’s career, the toll that it took on Te’o on and off the field and so much more.

Any question you may have had about the Te’o saga gets answered in this series, which is what you want from any documentary/docuseries.

Part 1 of the series mainly focuses on how Naya Tuiasosopo, who recently transitioned, catfished Te’o in 2013 when he was a senior at Notre Dame. In fact, Netflix even put up a disclaimer at the beginning of both parts of the series that the subjects interviewed for the show did not know Tuiasosopo recently transitioned.

Part 2 of the series focuses on how Deadspin broke the story of how Te’o’s girlfriend never existed, how the hoax fell apart and how it affected Te’o on and off the field.

It was fascinating to see how Deadspin’s Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey got the tip that Te’o’s girlfriend did not exist, how they pursued the story and how they unleashed it to the world. (Full disclosure: Dickey is a former SI colleague and current Sports Illustrated union rep who I’m friends with, and Burke will be a guest on this week’s SI Media Podcast.)

Clearly I’m biased since I work in sports media, but to look back at the media frenzy surrounding this story and to see how a big story spread and got covered in those days was kind of nostalgic. It was fascinating to remember what the Internet and sports blogosphere were like back then. I don’t necessarily mean that in a positive way; at its root, this is a story about how an innocent man had his life messed with in a sick way.

And that’s the crux of this series. If you don’t walk away from watching this series with, not a little, but a massive amount of sympathy for Te’o, you have no heart.

A big narrative for a long time was, “How could Te’o fall for this scam?” The series does an excellent job of showing just how easy it was for him to get hoodwinked.

The most powerful moments in the series, though, are the ones that highlight how much damage this did to Te’o and his family. From dropping his stock in the NFL draft to leading to constant mocking, to people speculating that Te’o was in on this hoax, he was a victim every step of the way.

Additionally, the scandal took such a toll on Te’o that he experienced physical and mental illness for years because of what happened. Hearing him explain this in his own words was simply heartbreaking.

As for Tuiasosopo, the lack of remorse on her part in the doc was stunning. She hurt so many people in so many significant ways and just didn’t seem like she grasped the gravity of the damage she caused. If one of the goals of the series was to make Tuiasosopo a sympathetic figure, then that’s the one thing it didn’t accomplish.

2. While it’s not on the level as the Manti Te’o story in terms of “what on Earth is going on here?” Patrick Reed filing a defamation lawsuit against Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee is a doozy. Reed claims Chamblee and Golf Channel have been “actively targeting” him for nine years to “destroy his reputation, create hate and a hostile work environment for him, and with the intention to discredit his name and accomplishments as a young, elite, world-class golfer.”

As ridiculous as this sounds, what’s even more ridiculous is this is Reed’s lawyer.

3. CBS announced its NFL broadcast crews for the upcoming season Tuesday. Fox announced its crews last week. Here are the pairings you’ll be spending your Sundays with from September to January.


Jim Nantz–Tony Romo
Ian Eagle–Charles Davis
Kevin Harlan–Trent Green
Greg Gumbel–Adam Archuleta
Andrew Catalon–James Lofton
Spero Dedes–Jay Feely
Tom McCarthy–Tiki Barber


Kevin Burkhardt–Greg Olsen
Joe Davis–Daryl Johnston
Adam Amin–Mark Schlereth
Kenny Albert–Jonathan Vilma
Kevin Kugler–Mark Sanchez
Chris Myers–Robert Smith

The CBS lineup is superior from top to bottom. When Kevin Harlan is your No. 3 announcer, you have major depth.

4. This video was all over Twitter on Tuesday night with every single media outlet saying this Yankees fan got a “haircut” during the game. There’s only one problem. He didn’t get a haircut. There’s no buzzer, no scissors, nothing.

5. Red Sox analyst Dennis Eckersley unloaded on the Pirates organization during last night’s game and his comments got a lot of attention. What’s noteworthy and sad here is that Eckersley is getting attention for speaking the truth and being honest. He said nothing wrong.

6. This week’s SI Media Podcast features two interviews plus our weekly “Traina Thoughts” segment.

First up is Linda Cohn from ESPN. Cohn, who recently re-signed with the network, talks about being at ESPN for 30 years and anchoring more SportsCenters than any other host in the show’s history. Cohn discusses how she got started in the business, being given an ultimatum after her first two years at ESPN, her love of hockey and much more.

Following Cohn, former WWE head writer Brian Gewirtz joins the podcast. Gewirtz, who has a new book titled There's Just One Problem, shares inside stories from his time writing Monday Night Raw from 1999 to 2012 and talks about what it was like to collaborate with The Rock, Mick Foley, Chris Jericho and more.

The podcast closes with “Traina Thoughts.” This week, Sal Licata from WFAN and SNY and I talk about Hard Knocks, a recent must-watch show from ESPN and why you can’t do back-to-back naps.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on AppleSpotify and Google.

You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Happy 79th birthday to the great Robert DeNiro.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Google. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.