Manti Te’o has participated in the Heisman Trophy ceremony. He has also played in a BCS National Title game. Still, he says he’s never faced more cameras and people in a press room than he did at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine.
Te’o faced hundreds of media at the Combine in Lucas Oil Stadium, and answered 36 questions about his past, present, and future as an NFL player. So what did happen with the whole “catfishing” thing, Manti?
“I cared from somebody, and that’s what I was taught to do. Ever since I was young,” Te’o said. “Unfortunately it didn’t end up the way I thought it would.”
You have to feel for Te’o, who’s been getting grilled about this very embarrassing situation ever since the evidence came to light more than a month ago. He’s calmly answered questions about his future, about his past, and what NFL teams are asking him behind closed doors.
“The incident, I said all I needed to say about that,” Te’o said. “How I’m handling it going forward is focusing on the moment, focusing on football and the combine. Not everyone gets the opportunity to be here.”
The All-American and star linebacker prospect has already had formal meetings with the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers, both of whom operate out of a 3-4 defensive scheme. Te’o says he will meet with 18 more teams as the process progresses in Indianapolis.
I think we can all see that Te’o has been through enough at this point. Not only has he faced the wrath of national media, but he will face the wrath up against every team he plays in his first NFL season, perhaps even among his own teammates. No one will probably ever forget what Te’o went through this year, and there will always be people who relentlessly harass him about it.
“Hopefully after this I answered the things I have to answer and we can move on with football.”
We hope so too, Manti.
Te’o was extremely composed throughout the interview, answering tough questions with a smile on his face at times, but you get the clear indication he understands that this is all going to be part of the process at this point. He says he’s no longer embarrassed about the ordeal, but the hardest part has been the effect it’s had on his family.
“The toughest moment was a phone call I got from my sister when she told me they had to sneak my own family in their home,” Te’o said. “That had to be the hardest part.”
Nobody deserves that kind of negative attention, no matter what kind of mistake they’ve made. Not to mention, one of Te’o's peers at the top of the inside linebacker crop–Georgia’s Alec Ogletree–was recently arrested and charged with a DUI. That to me is far more severe than getting duped by someone over the phone.
I am not going to pretend that Te’o's incident wasn’t eye-popping or very strange, but it’s something that people need to get over. I’d be willing to bet that the only reason it’s still in the news is because people are so intrigued when a seemingly untouchable celebrity like Te’o hits rock bottom as he did.
Why are we so interested in famous people’s failures? Seems sick to me.
That being said, I think we can all begin to move on from the whole catfishing incident and move forward to where Te’o will fall in the draft, and what team he will be impacting in 2013. There’s no question this will be a topic of discussion for he and NFL teams, but at the Combine, those teams are smart enough to know that they don’t need to spend more than one question of their time on it with Manti, and pick his brain on more important matters like football.
Te’o may have been duped off the field with someone he thought he loved, but he was not frequently duped on it. He is a hard worker on and off the field, in the weight room, and a leader among his teammates. He is a great football player, and hopefully that will be the focus from here on out.