Manti Te'o isn't the first athlete to be duped by a pretty face online. It sure looks like he did a much better job of it than anyone ever has, but athletes getting fooled/fooling themselves online is not a rare occurrence. In fact, according to NFL.com, as recently as a few weeks ago several Redskins players tried to meet up with a sexy Twitter fake, creating the need to post a memo in the team's locker room warning them to stay away.
This raises all kinds of questions about the legitimate vulnerabilities athletes have and why they might be susceptible to certain types of trickery despite access to either Skype or common sense or both. But it's probably better just to get to the most important question: How can I get my favorite athlete to respond to MY (fake?) Twitter account? To that end, here are the top ways to get an athlete's attention online. I'm helpful like that:
Use a Photo of a Sexy/Racially Ambiguous Woman
Studies (of non-athletes) show that racially ambiguous women are generally found to be the most attractive humans; judging strictly by their taste in online catfish, athletes appear to be no exception to this rule. The catch-all term used by a lot of dudes for these women is exotic—or, as we experts in the field say, "exotical." This means good-looking, but only really exotic in a dimly lit room with a fitted cap on and the brim low. Putting up a photo of a scantily clad exotical bombshell is the first step to getting in an athlete's Direct Messages. To be safe, it's smart to describe yourself as mixed in your Twitter handle. I'd recommend something like @mixedbeauty4u or @hotblasian215. Use your bio to complicate your ethnic background like Beyonce does in her L'Oreal True Match commercials. It's easy.
Buy Some Followers
Not only do athletes HAVE groupies, they ARE groupies. I'm obviously generalizing but athletes, like most celebrities, clearly prefer to talk to other people who are well known. We all saw how quickly some professional athletes joined the public in following Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron's girlfriend Katherine Webb after ESPN’s cameras and Brent Musberger's horny-uncle ad libs made her an instant celeb. I'm not saying LeBron James or Arizona Cardinals lineman Darnell Dockett truly had designs on Miss Webb, but perceived fame often results in curiosity, and curiosity can get you the follow you'll need in order to properly fake your target out. (Note: you're not going to do any of this, right? What's the matter with you?)
So, right: hop over to some pay-for-popularity site and cop you about 50,000 followers. Wait, let's make that 25,000 since you don't want to raise any eyebrows. In your bio, describe yourself as a model or vixen, and list the prestigious publications and companies at which you’ve worked. Don't be afraid to go big: King Magazine, WorldStarHipHop.com, BangBros. You might say no to dating adult stars, but Rob Gronkowski can't.
Act Like You Don't Know/ Be a SuperFan
Begging for replies on twitter always looks horrible, but there are worse ways to get an athlete’s attention than pretending not to know they're famous and just happened upon their page and happen to think they're hot as fish grease.
No, it doesn't matter that they clearly have a verified check, team name and position in their bio to go along with 80,000 followers. Not all athletes spend their days being hit on by beautiful women and told how great they are. Most football players, in particular, are relatively anonymous, since they spend a good bit of their time in public hiding behind face-masks. Plenty of guys are happy to hear some nice words from a fake babe. Plus it's scary to talk to women off line. There are some real crazies out there!
Or there's a more direct route: gigglingly confess that you (blush) love them, and thought they totally deserved to go to the Pro Bowl even though they were ranked near the bottom at their position by Pro Football Focus. That'll probably work.
Have A Terrible Disease
Here I have saved the worst for last. If you follow even one athlete on Twitter than you know how effective sob stories are at coaxing a retweet. This is reasonable enough, but also opens things up for an especially shameless RT-hunter.
The question, here, is why this is even a thing. Why is some guy—and it's usually a guy—tweeting at an athlete and asking for a retweet because his wife or kid is battling cancer without a link to a funding drive? Is there any answer that isn't depressing? At the very least, it's hard to know what to think.
Athletes are frequently very charitable and do invite sick people to practices, offer to donate money to causes or at least to talk to them offline. This is all admirable, and also easily exploited by not-at-all admirable people. It's also why I wasn't surprised at all that Te'o's Catfisher pretended to have leukemia. The truism is true, in this case: the quickest way to a man's heart is to tell him you might die soon. Any successful fake online relationship needs to be built on just that kind of trust.