By Chuck Schilken
5:07 PM EST, January 23, 2013
The Manti Te'o saga may not be as unusual as we thought.
Although an athlete finding out that his deceased girlfriend never existed in the first place -- as the Notre Dame linebacker claims to have happened to him -- is an extreme example, Te'o apparently is not the only athlete to be duped into a relationship with someone who has assumed a false identity.
A woman using the Twitter handle @RedRidnH00d established dialogues with pro athletes, particularly players for her favorite team, the Washington Redskins, while going by the pseudonym Sidney Ackermann and using photos of Internet adult entertainer C.J. Miles as her own, according to a story on NFL.com.
She conversed with at least four Redskins players via Twitter's direct messaging but also exhanged texts with some of them and even sent one of Miles' pornographic videos to one player, claiming it was her. But a red flag went up when several of the Redskins players were unable to arrange actual meetings with her.
Redskins director of player development Phillip Daniels also received information that "Ackerman" was a fake. NFL security conducted an investigation, and the woman's social media sites have since been shut down.
NFL.com also discovered another Twitter account, @RideAndDieChick, that used Miles' image as an avatar. That account, which has since been shut down, was being followed by 22 verified NFL players and six verified NBA players.
"I think it was all about attention," Daniels told NFL.com of the creators of the false accounts. "I don't think it was any of the other stuff. It was just about being able to talk to them, pretending to be someone they aren't. It was never a situation where guys were giving money or anything like that."
Still, as Te'o's case shows, it's something pro athletes need to be smart about in this day and age.
"If you think about it, a lot of them are single guys, and they see somebody who looks good in a picture or something," Daniels said. "In many cases, it involves someone who is a fan of the team, so they'll start talking about the team. You have to recognize that something just isn't right.
"But you're talking about a lot of guys who are single. I don't fault the guys. I fault the people who are doing this crazy stuff, causing these problems."