Truth be told – or not

Lance Armstrong is coming clean to Oprah Winfrey on television tonight, where he’ll finally admit what we’ve suspected, and what others have told us, for years.

Meanwhile, former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o had a fake girlfriend, one he either concocted or accepted without proof. Either way, he looks like a fool.

Ex-Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.

Sometime soon another sports star will be exposed as a liar, cheat or buffoon. One incredulous story is followed up by one even more hard to fathom. Soon, we’ll discover that the 25 players on the field for the world championship San Francisco Giants in October were bused in from Mars.

The Internet, where sensationalism is the norm, holds us all as prisoners, just one dumb move away from being swept away in the undercurrent of disgrace and dishonor.

Te’o says he met his “girlfriend” online, and that they had a relationship for more than three years. But they never met in person and he didn’t attend her funeral after she “died” from leukemia. Nor did he even visit this “woman” in the hospital.

When it becomes necessary to use quote marks around more than one word in a paragraph, there’s usually a problem.

Te’o, who as I’m writing this has not come forward to explain his bizarre situation other than to issue a more-questions-than-answers statement Wednesday, needs to simply tell the truth. And nothing but the truth. If you haven’t read the “Deadspin” account of this bizarre story, it’s here. Although if you haven’t read it by now, you’re probably not interested.

People just need to tell the truth. It’s one of the Ten Commandments.

Think how much simpler life would be if people abstained from lying.

But we can’t, because we’re people. And when there’s something to protect, we lie. Faced with consequences, we lie some more. Soon the lies become the truth.

Te’o will have a tarnished image and has to accept that.

Ditto for Armstrong, who waited years to finally make his admission. And from what I’ve read about his interview with Oprah, Armstrong is not as repentant as you might expect him to be.

Human beings make mistakes, but too often cannot see their way out of them. So they make more mistakes by attempting to clean up the original errors.

You would think that people in the public eye would understand the inherent risks that accompany their positions. And if they don’t, why not?

In Armstrong’s case, we accept that most cyclists used steroids. We don’t condone it, necessarily, but we accept it to be fact. By telling us that he was the exception, and that all of his numerous Tour de France titles came about all because of his hard work and dedication, Armstrong created a web of deceit that a machete can’t cut through.

Our distrust of Armstrong should be so strong, in fact, that we treat what he says during his interview with Oprah with doubt and skepticism. Once a liar of this magnitude, always a liar. Perhaps that’s too harsh, and perhaps over time Armstrong can win some of us back. But I keep thinking about all of those people who stood by his side, who defended him with passion, and how they must feel now. I also keep thinking about how the fellow cyclists who cast doubt on Armstrong, or insisted that he had used steroids with them, are now vindicated, but at a heavy toll.

With Te’o, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Just more than a month after finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Te’o is a national punch line, and that’s sad. He might have a man’s body, but we also know that in this day and age, being 22 isn’t what it used to be.

The Teo story is definitely bizarre and difficult to comprehend. It’s interesting to me that so many people are saying they’re already sick of this story, as if to give it no legitimacy. Perhaps that’s because it is such a head scratcher, unlike anything we’ve ever seen or heard.

But how much longer will stories like this be out of the norm? People in all walks of life spend hours and hours per day on their computers or tablets, where deceit lurks. We have to be careful. Somebody, apparently, is out to get us.

This is the world in which we live. Good is struggling to keep its lead over bad.