The Notre Dame linebacker and Heisman trophy finalist Manti Te’o has received a lot of press the past month–for all the wrong reasons. Manti Te’o is scheduled to speak to reporters Saturday at the 2013 NFL scouting combine, and will be taking questions from reporters for the first time since the startling revelation that his feel-good, incredible season story that was inspired by dealing with heartbreak of his girlfriend’s death, all turned out to be a hoax.
All eyes will be on the catfished Notre Dame linebacker. Too bad it just won’t be about football.
Te’o’s humiliating story of being duped into an all-phone, all-text relationship with a girl who never existed, has played out on a national stage and has become Te’o’s nightmare. Now, not only will he have to answer to a litany of questions from reporters, but will also have to do so from 32 NFL teams who will also want to know what happened.
Before Te’o’s inspiring fable of Lennay Kekua’s death unraveled, Te’o was a top prospect who was once seen as a top-10 pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Now his status is in doubt.
The spotlight, the pressure, will be on Te’o at this combine. But the combine is giving Te’o another chance to restore his public image. Of course there will be other factors that complicate his image and draft status. He plays a position (inside linebacker) that doesn’t have as much value as it used to in the now pass-happy football league–it didn’t help when Alabama exposed his weaknesses, making him look silly, in the national championship game.
What will effect his draft status? Will scouts opinions already have been formulated without him even stepping on the field? Is it due to this hoax, or is it because he might have been overrated? He isn’t physically dominating for an inside linebacker, he had too many missed tackles, and he is too slow to be an every-down player.
It is unclear how much his draft stock has plummeted because of this catfishing drama, or how because of this drama, his play on the football field has been more under the microscope. So his performance in on-field drills and especially off-field interviews with individual teams, will be closely scrutinized.
Te’o has to prove he can handle all these distractions and be able to perform on the football field.