Te'o's silence only leads to more questions

Te'o's silence only leads to more questions

Manti Te'o's silence on the subject of Lennay Kekua has only led to more digging and speculation -- and that's not a good thing for the ex-Notre Dame linebacker.

Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick explained Wednesday that Te'o found out Kekua didn't die and was a hoax on Dec. 6. But Awful Announcing turned up two instances of Te'o talking about his deceased girlfriend after Dec. 6, and the Associated Press also found another example.

An explanation of those remarks adds another question Te'o will have to answer at some point, less he risk losing more people on his side. Among the others: What was his relationship with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man Deadspin pegged as being behind Kekua? Why did the Te'o family say the couple had met in person when, in fact, that was not true? What, exactly, were the specifics of Te'o's relationship with Kekua, called into question by an anonymous teammate?

Swarbrick was under the impression Te'o would speak on the matter as soon as Thursday, and earlier in the day it was reported ESPN's Jeremy Schapp had been tabbed to talk to the linebacker Thursday night. But those plans were scuttled at some point, and silence continues to persist from the Te'o camp.

But Tuiasosopo may be the key to this story. If he indeed was the mastermind behind Kekua, was he playing Te'o or did the pair execute the hoax together? Tuiasosopo and Te'o appeared to have some sort of relationship, per the initial Deadspin report and a few previous interactions on Twitter and Facebook.

CSNChicago.com's attempts to reach the Tuiasosopo family Thursday were unsuccessful, as has been the case for every other media outlet. Titus Tuiasosopo, Ronaiah's father, posted a message to his Facebook page early Thursday morning, however:

"I know so much has been splattered all over the media about my son & my family," the post read. "I also know that many who were born in a manger in Bethlehem & continue to walk on water will undoubtedly express their opinions. Those of you who know us the best still love us the most. It my hope & prayer that we allow the truth to take its course, wherever that may lead. My heart goes out to Manti & the Te'o Aiga. Please allow this young man to pursue his dream without judgement. He's an amazing role model for our youth and Samoan community."

In the comments, Lia Manu Tuiasosopo -- identified as a daughter of Titus and sister of Ronaiah -- posted: "manti doesn't deserve all the negativity. he deserves to succeed."

For right now, that's all we have from the Tuiasosopo camp. Te'o may ultimately speak -- the Associated Press reported that won't happen Thursday -- and when he does, he may provide answers to those previously-mentioned questions that appear to absolve him of any involvement.

But even if Te'o were involved, he almost certainly wouldn't admit it now -- not after releasing a statement Wednesday detailing how he was the victim of a "cruel hoax." If there's one lesson to be learned from this saga, it's to not blindly take someone at their word.

Still, Te'o could provide some clarity with reasonable answers to a list of pressing questions that's growing by the hour. If the Tuiasosopo family breaks its silence, we'll likely get more clarity.

For now, Te'o can help his case by speaking publicly. Perhaps he and his representatives are taking their time to get an airtight story straight. Even if that's the case, the speculation will continue to persist, and it won't all be favorable to Te'o.

Not enough injury woes? Bears now losing players to rampant stomach virus

Not enough injury woes? Bears now losing players to rampant stomach virus

John Fox could be excused for wondering if someone somewhere is sticking voodoo pins in a Bears doll. If it weren’t for bad luck, the 2016 Bears might have no luck at all. And now things have gotten worse, not better.

The Bears coach has overseen the M*A*S*H unit working to look like an NFL team while dealing with a sick bay situation that some days has made it seem easier to list the Bears who ARE practicing rather than the ones who aren’t.

Besides the injury tsunami that has beset them, the Bears this week are dealing with a flu/stomach virus that has hit as many as a dozen players, some more severely than others, and had one Bears higher-up facetiously (or maybe not) reaching for the Walter Payton Center door handle with his hand covered.

“We've got about six illnesses,” Fox said Wednesday, a list that included rookie cornerback Deiondre’ Hall, right tackle Bobby Massie and fullback Darrel Young for the first time.

Not all of practice was a study of absenteeism. Kicker Robbie Gould capped off Wednesday’s indoor session with a 57-yard field goal, consistent with his standing as one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history.

Gould has converted a respectable 83.2 percent of attempts in the wind tunnel known as Soldier Field. He has converted 90 percent of his kicks in NFL stadiums with either a dome or retractable roof.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Tight end Zach Miller and wide receiver Eddie Royal practiced again on Wednesday wearing don’t-hit-me red jerseys throughout practice, emblematic of their return from preseason concussions. They represent critical elements in the Bears’ passing offense, with Royal signed to put in place a steady veteran for three-receiver packages.

“We’re at a point now where we’re like, 'hey, we’ve got some time here with you guys; let’s get you guys back to 100 percent,’” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “We know what they can do on the field. It’s just a matter of us getting into game week and getting them back in the flow.”

How did Royal look coming back from his missed time? “Fresh,” Cutler said, smiling. “As he should be.”

Notre Dame announces four captains for 2016 season

Notre Dame announces four captains for 2016 season

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame announced four team captains for the 2016 season: Senior defensive end Isaac Rochell, redshirt junior left tackle Mike McGlinchey, redshirt junior wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. and senior linebacker James Onwualu. 

Rochell, a native of McDonough, Ga., has 15 tackles for a loss and three and a half sacks in his Irish career. The former four-star recruit has developed into a vocal leader on an Irish defense that was hit hard by the departures of Sheldon Day, Joe Schmidt, Jaylon Smith and Matthias Farley from last season. 

McGlinchey will enter his second full season starting on Notre Dame’s offensive line after being flipped from right tackle to replace Ronnie Stanley at left tackle this offseason. The Philadelphia native has 27 career starts to his name and has earned some speculation he could be a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. 

[SHOP: Get your Notre Dame gear]

Hunter, the son of former MLB All-Star outfielder Torii Hunter, has 35 career catches but is Notre Dame's leading returning receiver this fall. Coaches praised Hunter for how quickly he took on a leadership role in the Irish offense after the departures of prolific receivers Will Fuller and Chris Brown last season. 

Onwualu, a four-star recruit who initially played wide receiver his freshman year, was converted to Sam (outside) linebacker in 2014 and has been a steady presence there ever since. The Saint Paul, Minn. native had six tackles for a loss and three sacks last season.

Kyle Hendricks keeps rolling as Cubs sweep away Padres

Kyle Hendricks keeps rolling as Cubs sweep away Padres

SAN DIEGO — Kyle Hendricks reported to spring training as a fifth starter, leads the majors in ERA in late August and could pitch Game 1 in a playoff series.

That gradual evolution from possible question mark at the back of the rotation into a National League Cy Young Award candidate highlights how the Cubs have transformed from a team that won the offseason to one that owns the summer and maybe this fall.

In his own understated way, Hendricks smashed any perceptions of that ceiling, performing at a level and with a consistency that matches the franchise’s young hitting stars, mirroring their baseball IQ and grounded nature (without the billboards and flair for social media).

Hendricks kept rolling on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon at Petco Park, knocking the San Diego Padres off-balance and finishing a three-game sweep with a 6-3 victory in front of 30,033. The Dartmouth College graduate with an Ivy League degree in economics understands what he’s up against and knows what he’s doing.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

The Padres (53-74) looked a little checked out and didn’t really put any pressure on a Cubs team that should get an adrenaline boost this weekend at Dodger Stadium. Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant opened the game with back-to-back doubles before Ben Zobrist lined a two-run triple into the right-center field gap. Within six minutes of Paul Clemens’ first pitch, Jorge Soler’s sacrifice fly made it 3-0.

Hendricks hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in a start since May 17, a run of 17 straight outings that has sliced his ERA from 3.51 to 2.19 and pushed his record to 12-7.

Hendricks hides his emotions on the mound and didn’t get flustered when the Padres put the leadoff man on base in each of the first four innings, working around the traffic to limit San Diego to two runs and finish with eight strikeouts.

Hendricks made it through six innings — he’s now gone at least five in each of his 24 starts this year — after beginning the day with a soft-hit rate (26 percent of batted balls) that led the majors on FanGraphs and would be the highest mark in the last five seasons.

Add all this up and the Cubs will be putting Hendricks front and center in October.