MY TAKE ON MANTI TE’O
MY TAKE ON MANTI TE’O
Matt HealeyFriday,25 January 2013
The sports world has been talking about the Manti Te’o story for a while now. In case you missed it, Manti Te’o is the middle linebacker for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. One of the stories associated with the Irish this year was how Manti was playing for his girlfriend, who had died from leukemia. The problem is she never existed. He was either in on it for a publicity stunt, or he was catfished.
I don’t care if he was in on it or not. He is a good middle linebacker and I think that any NFL team that needs a middle linebacker and passes on Manti in the upcoming NFL Draft is run by an idiot. It is not that I think that character issues should not play a role in drafting a player, it is just that I do not think this is a big deal. He broke no laws that I can see. He is not accused of beating up his girlfriend (after all, how do you beat up an imaginary person?). He did not take steroids to win 7 championships and then have to go on Opera to confess. He was not even involved in an recruiting scandal. All you can say was he was either an ego maniac or an idiot — two common traits of professional athletes.
Regardless, I am not above speculating on what happened. So here goes. I think he was catfished in the beginning but as things went on, he began to realize something was up. At that point he found himself in an uncomfortable position. He could admit he was fooled and become the butt of a joke, or he could run with the lie and hope he was never found out. It is not hard to imagine that a 20 year old athlete decided that he would continue the lie and assume that he would never get caught. After all, how often do you see a 20 year old make a stupid decision like that? The problem was he was not an ordinary 20 year old. He was the starting middle linebacker for Notre Dame, and thus was on TV often, was the subject of interviews, and was discussed by people like Mel Kiper on his draft status, etc. This was someone who had no chance of keeping this quiet. But at age 20 you don’t really know that. Still, he is a good middle linebacker and I don’t think this will hurt his draft status. However, the team that drafts him should send him for some remedial media training, and hire him a good advisor to make sure this doesn’t happen again.