Not for Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o, who was either royally duped or actively perpetrated a bodacious fraud upon the public.
Rather, I'm embarrassed for my "industry." My vocation. Yes, dare I go high and mighty, my craft.
I'm humiliated the mainstream media was so hungry for Te'o's fable of love and loss that, in the walk-up to the BCS national title game, proof of Lennay Kekua's fictitiousness was not discovered and apparently was barely researched.
Not until the wild, wild west sports website Deadspin.com posted its exhaustive investigative story Wednesday did we learn that Kekua neither lived nor died - of leukemia or anything else.
This escapade affirms Te'o is one of the most stupendously gullible men who ever lived. Or else it affirms he was a craven publicity seeker, a stone-cold liar out to polish his Heisman candidacy. He now admits his relationship with Kekua was exclusively online, although in an ESPN interview he implied he'd met Kekua.
In any scenario, it's as equally dismal a day for the reputation of journalism - not just sports journalism. Amid the heart-wrenching story-telling, we lacked the curiosity and initiative to learn even a little bit about a central protagonist in Te'o's life.
Not even slim information surfaced from an easily accessible source, an obituary, about Lennay Kekua or her surviving family. Of course, that's because we are only finding out now that there is no obit or family - the latest gaping hole through which journalism has fallen.
"What I really find most alarming is there were so many red flags along the way, and the media just dropped the ball so often," said Joseph Cosco, an associate professor of English and journalism teacher at Old Dominion.
A former reporter, including at The Virginian-Pilot, Cosco said the oversight is especially stunning considering how much conflicting information about Kekua had circulated, including even the date of her manufactured death.
"This is some of the top media outlets in the country," Cosco said. "You would think somebody like the (New York) Times, or the AP or Sports Illustrated would try to sort that out, and in sorting it out probably would have uncovered it.
"How can you have so many media working the story and not trip over some sign that whoa, something's wrong here?"
The obvious answer: We didn't "work" the story. Rather, we went along with it, for whatever reasons - its poignancy, Te'o's engaging personality, his profile as a Heisman candidate, even the Kekua family's alleged request for privacy, issued to ESPN through Te'o.
"The assignment I hated worst when I was a reporter was approaching families who'd suffered some sort of tragedy," Cosco said. "I hated doing it, but felt I needed to do it.
"If the family itself said, 'We don't want to talk,' I'd appreciate that and I wouldn't bother them. But to have (Te'o) say the woman's family didn't want to talk and backing off, I have a little bit of a problem with that."
You might have heard mainstream media also has a problem of shrinking staffs and resources. No excuses, but it's plausible that perhaps fewer discerning eyes contributed to this humiliation. Then again, maybe it really was collective laziness.
One thing is certain; Cosco has his discussion topic for the next meeting of his weekly Sports Journalism course.
"The media didn't do the sorts of basic journalistic practices that we stress in Intro to Journalism courses," he said. "CBS ran a direct quote from (Kekua); well, where did that quote come from? The photos that ran of her? You need to know where these things are coming from."
It's embarrassing that we didn't know. It's worse if we didn't care.
Tom Robinson, 757-446-2518, firstname.lastname@example.org