Manti Te’o was recently involved in one of the most bizarre situations to gain national attention. Without getting too deep into narrative, Te’o – a star linebacker at Notre Dame University and runner-up in the Heisman Trophy race – was duped by someone behind a computer screen claiming to be his girlfriend only to find out this woman does not exist. Talk about a bait and switch.
Because of this, any NFL team would be crazy to take him in the first round. What is the first thing you think of when you hear the names Mike Vick or Ray Lewis? Dog fighting and murder, respectively. These athletes have a stigma about their careers they will never be able to shake. To their credit, though, they decided to start their NFL careers before they made headlines.
If a general manager takes Te’o in the first round, they are effectively saying they do not care about his personal life – no matter how peculiar – and they think he can help out the team, which is admirable. But admiration is not going to stop reporters from swarming the locker room to get a quote on the matter from teammates. This is a situation that no athlete wants in the locker room. It just brings negative attention and unwanted distractions that take away from a team’s goals and optimism.
Another thing players and front office members do not want is someone who gives less than 100 percent every play. Te’o would be this player. He showed up at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and severely underperformed. He attributed his slow 40-yard dash (4.82 seconds) to the fact that he had had a “long day.” Likewise, he did not participate in the bench press exercise due to a strained shoulder. In other words, he suffered from two of the most common “ailments” many players endure while playing football.
And if the BCS National Championship is any indication of his NFL career, Te’o might as well quit now. The University of Alabama steamrolled right over Notre Dame, and over Te’o somewhat literally. On more than one occasion, he ran up to plug the hole and got pummeled. If he can’t hack it against the best college teams, he likely won’t be successful at the next level.
So what have we learned here? Similar to his own life, Te’o has duped NFL scouts into thinking he is a rare talent. These are the very same scouts that once drooled over him during the season. The very same scouts who, because of Te’o’s notoriety, have lost interest in him. Talk about a bait and switch.