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Monday, May 21, 2018

Manti Te’o: I don’t see how girlfriend hoax takes away from what I did on the field

manti-teoManti Te’o was once a can’t-miss NFL prospect, but now he has more to prove than most players in the nation when the NFL scouting combine begins on Wednesday. Because of a certain situation with a young lady who never actually existed, NFL teams have a number of questions about the former Notre Dame linebacker.

Does the girlfriend Hoax affect who Te’o is as a player? He says it does not.

“I have to just go out there and perform and all that other stuff is behind me,” he told USA TODAY Sports on Monday. “What I did on the field is what I did on the field. I don’t think what I did with this whole situation, I don’t understand how it takes away from what I did on the field.

“As far as my stock dropping or rising, that’s not up to me. The only thing I have to do is just do well, run fast, just be myself, be quick.”

As we know, performance on the field is hardly all NFL teams are interested in. Te’o played one of his worst games of the season in the BCS National Championship Game against Alabama, and that almost certainly happened because he was distracted. Since the Lennay Kekua hoax was one of the biggest stories of the year, NFL teams have to be wondering if the distraction will ever be fully gone.

“I didn’t do anything illegal,” Te’o said. “I didn’t break any rules, I didn’t hurt anybody. I just wasn’t very forthcoming, as forthcoming as I should have been but in that, I didn’t do anything wrong.

“I have to just be myself. For me, the greatest fault would be to tell somebody something I’m not.¬†And when it’s time to do the interviews, just be myself and everything will fall into place.”

Let’s not forget that one NFL team asked a college player about his mother being a prostitute. Is that information needed to know whether or not that player would be effective at the NFL level? Probably not, but the point is NFL teams worry and ask about everything. Will reporters still be asking about Teo’s fake girlfriend when minicamp begins this summer or the summer after? That is the question that could keep Te’o’s draft stock a bit lower than it would have been months ago.

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