Manti Te'o sure has Lance Armstrong beat

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o answers a question Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o answers a question during an NCAA college football media day in South Bend, Ind. (Aug. 16, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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Ellis Henican Newsday columnist Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a political analyst at the Fox News Channel and ...

Give Lance Armstrong this much credit: At least his story wasn't as preposterous as Manti Te'o's. Admittedly, the Notre Dame fabulist set a pretty high bar.

All Lance wanted us to believe was that, in a sport famously riddled with performance-enhancing drugs, he never once consumed a single banned substance as he pedaled into the Tour de France winner's circle seven straight times.

I mean, it COULD happen, right? Just like a star Notre Dame linebacker COULD suffer the pile-on tragedy of losing his beloved grandmother just as his girlfriend, freshly recovered from a near-fatal auto wreck, promptly dies of leukemia.

Could but didn't -- in either case.

The lid has finally been ripped off both these whoppers. But only one of those revelations comes as much of a surprise. For years, almost everyone in bike-racing knew Lance was lying when he said, when he insisted, when he swore he'd always raced clean. Even as his handlers and teammates built ironclad cases against him -- even as he hit his many accusers with lawsuits -- the evidence kept piling higher. All that was left was the final, grudging admission, which Oprah extracted Thursday night.

Manti Te'o's case is uniquely its own. For one thing, the football star says he was not the hoaxer -- he was the hoaxed. His version of exactly what happened is still a little squishy. But the All-American linebacker claims that his widely publicized "girlfriend" was an Internet concoction by unknown pranksters with unknown intent and unfathomable brilliance at pulling it off. And all the player's heartfelt embellishments were just -- what?

Perhaps he, too, will lay it all out for Oprah -- or someone -- and soon.

YOU MEAN. . .

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1. CEOs are overcompensated?

2. Wrestling's fake?

3. Sports heroes aren't role models?

4. Politicians are corrupt?

5. Lance doped?

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Two whales? One town? And no connection? That's a whale of an East Hampton coincidence, no? . . . Mount Pleasant Road or the Smithtown Sinkhole -- really, what's a more honest name? . . . Will Oceanside's Sandy-wracked Middle Bay Golf Club ever reopen? . . . What's the difference between a tragedy and a crime? Was that the key question when Kathleen Rice decided not to prosecute in the Oyster Bay boating accident that killed three children? . . . When 23 "used-in-a-crime" vehicles are auctioned by Nassau County Jan. 23 and 30, are bidders expecting valuable contraband hidden in headrests, seat cushions or wheel wells? . . . Once memories of superstorm Sandy fully fade, will people still be nodding along with state Sen. Carl Marcellino's plea: Don't rebuild in places "Mother Nature owns"? . . . Is Nassau County especially rife with con artists? Exec Ed Mangano reveals another 17 allegations of social-services fraud . . . Are LI values finally rising? Can MTA officials really credit the LIRR East Side Access Project? Don't you know they'll try? . . . Are you happy gas prices keep dropping -- or sad that LI's $3.71-a-gallon is the highest in America?

THE NEWS IN SONG: "You think we're stupid? How dare you": Lies by Billy Talent, tinyurl.com/lanceteo

LONG ISLANDERS OF THE WEEK: THE ISLES' ISLAND FANS

They are the genuine victims of the wobbly high-wire act that cost Long Island its only big(ish)-time sports franchise. Their pleas were ignored by thick-headed politicians and thick-skinned business tycoons, both sides too stubborn to make a deal. And there the fans were again, in their aging Coliseum on Saturday night, cheering their lame-duck hockey heroes through a second-to-last opening match on Long Island ice. The New York Islanders will start their 2015 season a million miles away in Brooklyn. The Long Island mourning has already begun.

Email ellis@henican.com
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