Manti Te'o: Biggest Takeaways from NFL Prospect's Combine Press Conference
For the first time since his interview with Katie Couric on her daytime show, Te'o answered public questions from NFL media pundits about his hoax scandal, what it means for his NFL career and what his goals are at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine.
One thing is for sure—people are still drawn to the Notre Dame linebacker because of the oddities involved in his current story. Take a look at how packed the room was, courtesy of Ron Clements:
Ben Volin had this angle:
This Te'o press conference is a zoo ow.ly/i/1zz7P— Ben Volin (@BenVolinPBP) February 23, 2013
Starting at about 2:15 p.m. ET, Te'o arrived at the podium to attempt to put doubters to bed. The biggest takeaway from his latest stint in the limelight appears to be that he's ready to stop discussing Lennay Kekua for good and start talking exclusively about football.
Jeff Darlington noted as much on Twitter:
Te'o on "incident": "I said all I needed to say about that. I'm focused on football." ...Looks like he's going with "moving on" approach.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) February 23, 2013
That didn't stop more questions from raining down, though.
As for the most obvious question of why Te'o didn't try and see his "girlfriend" during their relationship, he took a pragmatic approach. Darren Rovell reported his answer on Twitter:
Te'o on why he didn't go see Lennay Kekua: "We made plans, it just obviously didn't work out."— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) February 23, 2013
After the constant showcasing of one of the most personally embarrassing stories of our generation, another question that looms is Te'o's own thoughts about the issue.
That being said, it's clear that Te'o has had to show both maturity and honesty in this case.
The NFL knows a red flag when it sees one, and teams are going to do their full diligence in making sure he is the right choice for their football team. As Albert Breer notes, that's just the way it is:
Te'o on teams handling of the incident in interviews: "They all asked me about it." Said clubs wanted the facts.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 23, 2013
And as Darlington notes, there's a slew of other teams that want to talk to him during this process:
Te'o says he's only met with two of the 20 teams on his schedule -- so the questions have really only just begun. Some stressful days ahead.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) February 23, 2013
Te'o made national headlines in January after Deadspin reported that his relationship with supposedly deceased Kekua was a scam. The aftermath included everything from public backlash, questions of his own involvement and numerous interviews with the likes of Couric, Dr. Phil McGraw and ESPN's Jeremy Schapp.
Will Te'o's personal scandal affect his draft stock?
As a football player, the Heisman finalist helped the Irish go 12-1 and eventually lose to Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game. The NFL cares about his personal life, but they might be more interested in his game tape against the Tide than the hoax after the dust settles in Indianapolis.
Te'o's group (Group 9) is scheduled to continue medical examinations and interviews until Monday, when they will be on the field for a series of drills and physical tests that will include the vertical jump, three-cone drill and 40-yard dash.
His Notre Dame career put him in position to be a top pick in this year's draft, but a poor showing in the national championship game overshadowed his 100-plus tackle, seven-interception campaign in 2012. Drills and interviews will prove he still belongs in the first round.
He hasn't played a down in the NFL, but Te'o is clearly one of the most popular players at the combine.
A nationally reported story will do that to you.
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