Normalcy Remains Elusive Target for Te'o

AP Photo

The story is a classic of the genre. It opens on February 4, 2009—with an event that is, in the world of college football, the biggest day of the year that doesn’t involve tackling. This is National Signing Day, when the nation’s top high-school players officially commit to their chosen colleges. Among the most publicized and coveted recruits of 2009 is our protagonist, Manti Te’o, an explosive linebacker from the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

That Te’o happens to be of Hawaiian-Samoan descent—and Mormon, to boot—burnishes his star appeal. One of the N.F.L.’s biggest stars, Troy Polamalu, of the Pittsburgh Steelers, comes from a long line of Samoans. Pacific Islanders routinely play at the University of Southern California (because...

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