Te'o tackles combine queries
By Alan Robinson
Published: Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 7:39 p.m.
INDIANAPOLIS — Manti Te'o was polite, composed, organized, candid, remorseful, apologetic. And more than a little embarrassed.
This was worse than going against Alabama's we'll-show-him offense, worse than trying to look through all those inquisitive stares whenever he ventures into a public that remains as curious as ever about his more-than-curious true confessional.
Te'o met with a large group of media members Saturday for the first time since the disclosure that the star linebacker's supposedly deceased girlfriend, one who became a sympathetic story line during Notre Dame's run to the national title game, was a piece of fiction. It was instead the work of a love-struck male admirer who engaged him in hours of phone calls, all while disguising as a beautiful woman.
As he looked around a Lucas Oil Stadium conference room filled with more-than-fascinated reporters who were filled with questions, Te'o had a single response.
“It's pretty crazy,” Te'o said.
Or much the same reaction that millions likely had when they learned that Lennay Kekua, the fictional girlfriend and Stanford student who supposedly died of leukemia late in the Fighting Irish's unbeaten regular season, was myth.
Te'o talked openly of being less than candid, of bringing embarrassment to the real-life family that he loves deeply.
“For anybody to go through (this), it's definitely embarrassing,” said the well-prepared Te'o, who was open and, at times, engaging during his 15-minute NFL Scouting Combine news conference. “When you're walking through grocery stores and you're kind of like giving people “double-takes to see if they're staring at you, it's definitely embarrassing.”
NFL teams, including the Steelers, don't want to see embarrassment or contriteness; they want to see leadership and honesty.
“They want to be able to trust their player,” Te'o said. “You don't want to invest in somebody you can't trust.”
And the first question out of each of the 20 teams that will interview him this weekend is likely to be the same.
“They've wanted to hear it from me what the truth was,” Te'o said.
For months, Te'o and the Irish were a transfixing feel-good story. Then it all vanished with a bad loss and an unimaginable story that truly was stranger than fiction.
“I could have done some things different, obviously, done a lot of things different to avoid all this stuff,” said Te'o, who kept the story going even after he learned that Kekua never existed.
And what has he learned during weeks of scrutiny?
“It just taught me to always give somebody the benefit of the doubt and say, ‘You never know, you never know what's going on with a person,' ” Te'o said.
Now, 32 teams have until April 25 to decide what's going on with Te'o. And whether they should give him the benefit of the doubt or, simply, give him a pass.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ex-Steeler WR Wallace: It was a ‘challenge’ for Haley to use me
- Steelers coach Tomlin fined $100K by NFL
- Steelers notebook: Cotchery says Tomlin turmoil not a distraction
- Video shows new angle of sideline play involving Steelers coach Tomlin
- Steelers notebook: Team down to third option at key line positions
- Offensive line injury bug continues to linger for Steelers
- Tomlin expects NFL to discipline him for interfering with kickoff
- Steelers’ Gay fined for hit on Browns QB Campbell
- Steelers’ Bell earns respect of his peers
- Steelers notebook: Bell knocked out of game, treated for possible concussion
- Steelers coach Tomlin denies sideline actions were intentional