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

Tampa Bay - WP: J. McGee 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: B. Morrow 5
Cleveland - LP: B. Shaw 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 6
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: E. Volquez 7
Miami - WP: A. DeSclafani 5 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: J. Papelbon 4
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 2 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: M. Garza 9
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 8 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 4
Minnesota - WP: T. May 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 4
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 4
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 10
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 6 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 1
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 4 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2
San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne 6 FINAL
Arizona - WP: Z. Spruill 8
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 4 FINAL
Seattle - LP: C. Young 0
NY Yankees - LP: D. Robertson 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: D. O`Day 3
Miami 10 FINAL
Buffalo 29
Jacksonville 10 FINAL
Washington 41
Dallas 26 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Arizona 25 FINAL
NY Giants 14
New England 30 FINAL
Minnesota 7
New Orleans 24 FINAL
Cleveland 26
Atlanta 10 FINAL
Cincinnati 24
Detroit 7 FINAL
Carolina 24
St. Louis 19 FINAL
Tampa Bay 17
Seattle 21 FINAL
San Diego 30
NY Jets 24 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Kansas City 17 FINAL
Denver 24
Houston 30 FINAL
Oakland 14
Chicago 28 FINAL
San Francisco 20
Philadelphia 7:30 PM
Indianapolis
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
Boise State 38 FINAL
Connecticut 21
Indiana 42 FINAL
Bowling Green 45
Ga Southern 38 FINAL
Georgia Tech 42
Syracuse 40 FINAL
Central Mich 3
UCF 10 FINAL
(18) Missouri 38
Massachusetts 31 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
Ohio U 14 FINAL
Marshall 44
West Virginia 40 FINAL
Maryland 37
Kent State 0 FINAL
(23) Ohio State 66
Pittsburgh 42 FINAL
FIU 25
East Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia Tech 21
Louisville 21 FINAL
Virginia 23
Wyoming 14 FINAL
(2) Oregon 48
Air Force 48 FINAL
Georgia State 38
(13) Georgia 35 FINAL
(14) So Carolina 38
Arkansas 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 28
Iowa State 20 FINAL
Iowa 17
Miami-Ohio 10 FINAL
Michigan 34
Kansas 3 FINAL
Duke 41
NC State 49 FINAL
So Florida 17
Arkansas State 20 FINAL
Miami-Florida 41
Miss State 35 FINAL
South Alabama 3
Louisiana 15 FINAL
(10) Ole Miss 56
Minnesota 7 FINAL
TCU 30
Illinois 19 FINAL
Washington 44
Army 0 FINAL
(16) Stanford 35
Western Mich 45 FINAL
Idaho 33
Eastern Mich 3 FINAL
Old Dominion 17
Southern Miss 12 FINAL
(3) Alabama 52
Northern Ill 48 FINAL
UNLV 34
Tulsa 21 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 50
ULM 0 FINAL
(8) LSU 31
Wake Forest 24 FINAL
Utah State 36
Western Ky 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 50
TX-San Antonio 13 FINAL
(25) Oklahoma State 43
Purdue 14 FINAL
(9) Notre Dame 30
Kentucky 30 FINAL
Florida 36
New Mexico St 24 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 42
Tennessee 10 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 34
(17) USC 31 FINAL
Boston College 37
Navy 35 FINAL
Texas State 21
(12) UCLA 20 FINAL
Texas 17
Penn State 13 FINAL
Rutgers 10
Rice 10 FINAL
(6) Texas A&M 38
(15) Arizona State 38 FINAL
Colorado 24
(24) Nebraska 55 FINAL
Fresno State 19
Nevada 28 FINAL
Arizona 35
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Montreal 16 FINAL
Edmonton 33
Toronto 33 FINAL
Calgary 40
Winnipeg 9 FINAL
Brt Columbia 26
Saskatchewan 3 FINAL
Hamilton 28
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings defense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close