The Morning File: Lance and Manti, you've got a friend

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Dear Lance Armstrong and Manti Te'o:

Phew, what a week, huh?

I don't know about you guys, but I'm pretty tired of the reporters, the headlines, the TV cameras, ESPN, Oprah, online romantic propositions and taking more and more steroids in hopes of improving my performance.

(The latter seems futile for some of us, unfortunately -- I can't type any faster now than when I started taking them.)

And that's without even bringing up last week's most disconcerting aspect -- the reminder at the Golden Globes of the curious Hollywood friendship of Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson. (Though, in fairness, anti-Semites and Yale lesbians need someone to hug them, too.)

Anyway, I'm just dropping a line -- and I AM real, Manti, don't worry for a moment that this is fake -- to suggest we get together for a beer soon to share our mutual concerns, including all of the potential endorsement revenue we've lost due to recent scandals that may or may not be our own doing.

I've got a lot of empathy for you, Lance, now that you're out of the closet as doping up in order to ride up those mountains really fast in the Tour de France. Not everyone seems to be giving you credit for your confession, late as it is in coming and without the kind of on-air sobs that would make for really good viral video. But I, too, know what it's like to feel pressure to outdo my peers, by whatever means, in order to achieve acclaim, fame and fortune.

I hope you'll watch an upcoming "60 Minutes" broadcast, in which I was grilled about the 1971 Pittsburgh elementary school regional spelling bee competition at Buhl Planetarium. It's finally been uncovered that I had surreptitiously written on the palms of my hands a dozen or so words I deemed most likely to trip me up. Unfortunately, "m-a-y-o-n-n-a-i-s-e" was on neither hand, so I never came close to winning anyway, but that doesn't mean the stinking media are going to ignore a good scandal when they see one, even one 42 years old.

By the way, Lance, I was looking for your interview on my cable, but I had no idea where to find Oprah's OWN (short for Oprah Winfrey Network -- I like that). After scrolling through the first 240 channels on my remote, my thumb was tired and begged me to stop.

I never hear about OWN except when Oprah's doing a high-profile interview, which isn't often. I'm worried no one's watching the rest of the time and Oprah's losing money. If she lost, say, $100 million, she'd be down to net worth of $2.6 billion or so, which would be a shame, so I do intend to start watching, if I ever find the channel.

As for you, Manti, the refrain of Todd Rundgren's "We Gotta Get You a Woman" keeps going through my head. I am in solidarity with you, brother, because I know if I were in your cleats -- as a handsome, strapping, virile Notre Dame football star in my early 20s with all kinds of beautiful coeds throwing themselves at me -- I would also use it as an opportunity to focus on an online relationship with someone I could never see or smell or touch or, or ... well, let's just leave it at that.

They say college is a great learning experience for life, so I hope you can focus on the positives to have come out of this hoax involving your mythical girlfriend Lennay Kekua. For instance, someone you said you loved didn't really die! So, it caused you pain you don't have to feel anymore; plus, it's really good practice for when someone you do love dies!

(Consider it like being one of those field goal kickers who misses the game-winning kick, except the other team's nimrod coach called a timeout a nanosecond before the kick, and so you get to do it again and make it on the second try, with the help of the practice. I love when that happens!)

So here we are, the three of us, disgraced heroes in the public eye, wondering how we can climb back on that pedestal. I don't know about yinz, but I do wonder why we get looked up to so much in the first place for our athletic achievements. If people would learn not to do that, they'd never have to worry about being disappointed. Wouldn't that be better for everyone?

You know where I find my heroes these days, Lance and Manti? Down at the deli, preferably with swiss and mayo. Just don't make me spell mayo the long way.


Gary Rotstein: or 412-263-1255.


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