Te'o doesn't duck NFL media blitz

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 23, 2013 - 11:19 PM

Manti Te'o's poise in addressing his embarrassing fake-girlfriend scandal earned high marks in one aspect of a meticulous NFL vetting process.

 

INDIANAPOLIS - The circus organs had finally stopped piping and the media tidal wave had receded.

An hour had passed Saturday since Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o walked off Podium C at the NFL scouting combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. And now Gil Brandt stood in a concourse trying to summarize the weekend's most anticipated interview.

Te'o had been under the spotlight for 14 minutes and 36 seconds, fielding 34 questions and trying to provide an honest if totally abbreviated update on his oh-so-peculiar 2013.

Brandt, once the vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys and now a senior analyst for the NFL's website, shrugged and gave a preliminary nod of approval.

"Handled himself incredibly well," Brandt said.

Pointed questions were fired Te'o's way about the now-infamous Lennay Kekua fake girlfriend hoax. Yet he navigated the session with grace.

His answers were direct. His sentiments seemed sincere.

"Once you do this head on," Brandt said, "hopefully you get it behind you and it's history. And before long, this can be about him as a football player again."

• • •

A night earlier, as hundreds of combine participants were being fed at the nearby Crowne Plaza, Brandt made a point to seek out Te'o. He wanted to measure the linebacker's anxiety, to get a feel for his mindset, to offer a nuggets of advice.

Brandt sat with Te'o as he ate and told him it would be in his best interest to attack all the athletic testing and drills at the combine without reservation. Te'o said he planned to.

Brandt advised Te'o not to dodge the media.

Te'o never intended to.

"I'm like everybody else," Brandt said. "I want to know what the kid is made of. And I've been really impressed. He has great communication skills. He interacts so well."

So when it finally came time for Te'o to march into the teeth of an unprecedented combine media blitz, he climbed the podium steps and looked out at a swarm unlike any he'd seen.

"Pretty crazy," he said. "I've been in front of a few cameras. But never as many as this."

Not only had all 32 chairs set up in front of the podium been full for some time, but 43 TV cameras had also jockeyed for position, with another eye-opening overflow of reporters lined eight and nine bodies deep across the room, some climbing on top of chairs to get a view.

By most accounts, the interest dwarfed even that of Tim Tebow's 2010 appearance here.

Te'o was asked why he had been slow in speaking up after the story broke on the website Deadspin on Jan. 16 with bizarre revelations that his late girlfriend had not only never died of leukemia but wasn't a girl at all -- rather a social media creation by hoax perpetrator Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.

"It was just a whirlwind of stuff," Te'o explained. "For me, a 22-year-old, a 21-year-old at that time, you're just trying to get your thoughts right. Everything's kind of chaos for a little bit. So you let that chaos die down and wait until everybody's willing to listen."

For the past 5 1/2 weeks, Te'o admitted, he has found himself fighting past humiliation.

"You're walking through a grocery store," he said, "and you kind of give people double-takes to see if they're staring at you. It's definitely embarrassing."

• • •

Over 15 minutes, the linebacker's mellow deportment seemed to calm the fascination in his plight.

Consider that a Te'o victory, as minor as it may be. Still, the media crush provides another variable for NFL general managers to consider.

Even if teams can find comfort that Te'o has been truthful about the hoax, even if they're sold he can be a difference-maker, they will have to wonder whether the media swarm Te'o will attract will become a nuisance.

It's not only the linebacker who will have to get used to that crush. Fifty-two other teammates will have to deal with its annoyances. And ask the Jets if there was any fatigue related to the media swarm that Tebow's arrival brought last season.

The Vikings will be one of those teams doing an exhaustive evaluation on Te'o. With the draft's 23rd pick and needs at middle linebacker, GM Rick Spielman will measure his Te'o intrigue across the board.

Can the kid play? Can he fit within the defensive scheme? Will he be a match for the brand of tough, disciplined and unselfish players head coach Leslie Frazier wants?

Those assessments should be fairly easy to complete.

Then, the Vikings will dig deeper into Te'o's background and the complex scandal that engulfed him, creating layers of confusion that still haven't been cleared up.

Said Spielman: "We know some things that have not been reported in the media. I'll say that."

• • •

In a new phase of this college-to-NFL transition, Te'o not only answered reporters' questions Saturday, he had private 15-minute interviews scheduled with 20 teams this weekend.

The linebacker will also try to provide additional answers Monday when he runs the 40-yard dash and goes through athletic testing.

And when those formalities are finished, the far more extensive interactions will ramp up.

The Vikings, for one, seem likely to schedule Te'o for a Winter Park visit. And they will look forward to compiling results of the psychological testing they will put Te'o through, an exercise they hope can provide a reliable profile of who he is.

"There are a lot of different areas we really hone in on and try to look at," Spielman said. "Coachability. Social maturity. Self-esteem. Mental quickness."

On Thursday, before the Vikings had their chance to meet with Te'o, Spielman had no gut feeling for how his feelings might change.

"I don't know," Spielman said. "Because I haven't talked to him. ... So I don't know what percentage [the hoax stuff] is going to play. It could be, we're fine with what happened. Or maybe it's like, 'Yeesh. I don't know.'

"To be honest with you, I don't understand [some of it]. But I'm not a social media savvy guy. I ask my kids sometimes, 'Can you actually have a girlfriend online? How does that work?' I'm pretty naive when it comes to that. But honestly, I can't answer that question until we get in front and speak with him. I'm sure we'll have numerous conversations beyond the combine."

As well as Te'o handled Saturday, he best remain prepared. The demands of the pre-draft process are far from behind him.

  • related content

  • Hartman: Wilfs say Frazier will be around awhile

    Sunday February 24, 2013

    The fact that the Wilf family, owners of the Vikings, didn't offer coach Leslie Frazier a contract extension this offseason doesn't mean that they don't have complete confidence in Frazier...

  • Playing QB is goal for Gophers' Gray

    Monday February 25, 2013

    Playing QB is goal for Gophers' Gray

  • Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 7
Milwaukee - WP: Z. Duke 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: M. Melancon 0
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: J. Cosart 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 2
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: C. Archer 3
Cleveland 7 Bottom 8th Inning
Minnesota 2
Seattle - LP: C. Young 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 10
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Motte 8
San Francisco 0 Top 8th Inning
San Diego 3
Texas 0 Top 7th Inning
LA Angels 8
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 9 2nd Qtr 8:57
Toledo 20
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
(14) So Carolina 34 4th Qtr 5:50
Vanderbilt 27
(4) Oklahoma 38 4th Qtr 9:25
West Virginia 27
UNLV 14 4th Qtr 14:37
Houston 30
Miami-Florida 24 4th Qtr 9:16
(24) Nebraska 34
New Mexico 31 4th Qtr 8:53
New Mexico St 28
(22) Clemson 10 4th Qtr 15:00
(1) Florida State 10
California 14 2nd Qtr 13:42
Arizona 0
San Diego St 7 1st Qtr 7:38
Oregon State 0
(2) Oregon 0 1st Qtr 6:46
Washington St 7
Louisiana 0 1st Qtr 8:37
Boise State 7
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 FINAL
Columbus 1
San Jose 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
Seattle 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 4
D.C. 3 FINAL
Chicago 3
FC Dallas 0 1st Half 35:00
Los Angeles 0
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do on Sunday in New Orleans?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close