Former Cardinals fullback Reagan Maui'a says he met the girlfriend of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, a woman the university and Te'o now say doesn't exist.
Maui'a told ESPN he met Lennay Kekua in 2011 while he and some teammates were on a charity mission to American Samoa. Maui'a told the network this was before the woman met Te'o and that he and Kekua became "good friends."
Maui'a was through talking about the issue yesterday, 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 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 Bengals before coming to Arizona.
Maui'a told ESPN that Kekua "was tall, volleyball-type of physique. She was athletic, beautiful. Long hair. Polynesian. She looked like a model."
Latest NFL stories
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 yesterday, Maui'a was offering only phrases on Twitter. In response to someone offering support, he wrote, "Thanks bro, this entire thing is crazy."
BCS flop hurt Te'o. Here's the real story: Manti Te'o's stock in the NFL draft already was sinking. Blame his poor performance in the BCS title game, not any hoax or conspiracy, for that. Still, the uncertainty surrounding Notre Dame's All-American could further hurt Te'o, draft consultant Gil Brandt said.
"I think some teams will say it isn't worth the problem," said Brandt, who rates Te'o 19th overall in the first round. He said Te'o's stock plummeted in the BCS Championship Game.
"I don't think anybody considered him a top-five pick before all this happened," Brandt said. "Against Alabama, this was like a guy who was the best shooter in the world in basketball and here comes a game and he can't even hit the backboard.
"His play in that game was absolutely horrible. He missed on run blitzes; guys ran over him.''